In his startling, witty, and inexhaustibly inventive first novel, first published in 1986, the author of Vox and The Fermata uses a one-story escalator ride as the occasion for a dazzling reappraisal of everyday objects and rituals. From the humble milk carton to the act of tying one's shoes, The Mezzanine at once defamiliarizes the familiar world and endows it with loopy and euphoric poetry. Nicholson Baker's accounts of the ordinary become extraordinary through his sharp storytelling and his unconventional, conversational style.
At first glance, The Mezzanine appears to be a book about nothing. In reality, it is a brilliant celebration of things, simultaneously demonstrating the value of reflection and the importance of everyday human human experiences.
©2010 Nicholson Baker (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"[A[ cheerfully original novel." (Publishers Weekly)
"A very funny, enjoyable novel by a writer whose work frequently appears in The New Yorker." (Library Journal)
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
You will never look at the every object or task the same way ever again! Wonderfully written book of nostalgia and insight into the things that make our lives easier, bearable and civilized.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
"The mind is refrigerated by interruption; the thoughts are diverted from the principle subject; the reader is weary, he suspects not why; and at last throws away the book, which he has too diligently studied."
- Samuel Johnson, The Mezzanine
"Too fat, fat you must cut lean.
You got to take the elevator escalator to the mezzanine,
Chump, change, and it's on, super bon bon
Super bon bon, Super bon bon."
- Soul Coughing, Super Bon Bon Lyrics
This book is a literary scrimshaw of the mundane. It is basically a man breaking his shoe lace, using an office urinal, taking the escalator down to the first floor, visiting the CVS, buying a cookie and milk, and riding the escalator back up. That is it. I've totally ruined the plot for you. Sorry. The rest is just filigree and details fracturing and fractaling into discussions of straws, milk cartons, urinals, urination, papertowls, escalator etiquette, etc. This is Proust expanding on a urinal cake instead of a madeleine. This is a micro Ulysses. This is deuteroscopy of dust.
I remember first being exposed to Nicholson Baker right after I left high school. I read 'The Fermata' and 'Vox', two of Baker's early literotic efforts. 'Vox' was made famous because, if I remember right Bill Clinton gave Monica Lewinsky a copy of 'Vox' in celebration of their phone flirtations. Anyway, this novel isn't one of Baker's dirty bits. It is just an exploration of details and exploration of the bits. I think it was Stephen King who once remarked that Baker book Vox was a “meaningless little finger paring.” But that is really where Baker's genius lies. All those forgotten parings, those little details can be infinitely described. Like Microcosmos, you are invited to lower the glass and look at sand, or salt, or grass and you become lost in a whole new world. Baker glances at an escalator and describes a universe.
I read this on the recommendation of podcast and what a pleasure it was. Funny, thoughtful and nostalgic--Baker's character grew up in many of the venues I did in Rochester, N.Y. and not much later in time. I occasionally had to stop to engage with a memory brought up by his detailed description of places I'd almost forgotten. Now they're fresh in my mind again.
David LeDoux's narration is wonderful. As soon as I finish this paragraph, I'll be clicking his name to see what other work is available on Audible.
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