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The Mezzanine by Baker Nicholson
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The Mezzanine (original 1986; edition 1988)

by Baker Nicholson

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1,329375,845 (3.99)39
Member:Hempel
Title:The Mezzanine
Authors:Baker Nicholson
Info:Weidenfeld & Nicolson (1988), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker (1986)

  1. 00
    Remainder by Tom McCarthy (machinemachine)
    machinemachine: Obsession with the intimate experience of the present moment binds both these books together
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English (34)  French (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
It isn't often that I discover a new author by reading their first book, but I was fortunate enough to pick up Nicholson Baker's debut novel The Mezzanine as my introduction to his work, and I am already looking forward to what follows. Baker has earned a place on my bookshelf with this irreverent, time-compressed character study.

The Mezzanine is a playful work of post-modern metafiction in which the narrator explores the nuances of his life and his relationship to the world around him during an escalator ride between floors after an afternoon lunch break. Filled with numerous asides and digressions, including copious footnotes on everything from ice cube trays to ear plugs (and even footnotes), the novel exists as a stream of consciousness in reflection as Howie expands upon his thoughts and actions that afternoon with an obsessive quality that becomes an integral and telling part of the character.

Often compared to Proust for his poetic and accomplished attention to detail, Baker eschews an formal semblance of plot or story and instead focuses on a jewel point of consciousness and self-reflection that borders on existentialism. Readers looking for a formal plot with a traditional story-line setup and resolution might feel lost when they first wade into Howie's tangential narrative, but those who share Baker's wonder at the complexity and importance of even the most mundane activities will most likely be as enthralled with The Mezzanine as it's narrator is with shoelaces and paper straws. ( )
  reverends | Aug 8, 2014 |
Hilarious (and depressing) insights into the multifarious facades of the 1980s corporate world where Gordon Gekko would have been right at home. Its entire narrative arc takes place within the narrator's mind as he travels from the lobby of his workplace up the escalator to the mezzanine where his office is located. Dizzying footnoted interludes where he concentrates on the microscopy of his observations about such things as record grooves, vending machines, and staplers. Some readers who were born with game consoles in their hands would no doubt chafe at these interludes that slow this plotless rumination to a complete standstill. You can lose your place even in the going-nowhere narrative while getting lost in a maze of footnotes that take up more space than the text. I've never been a footnote freak. I prefer end notes. But even if Baker does sometimes overdo his forays into the minutia of mechanization, surely this fault can be sidelined by his dazzling rhythms and the fun and games on his linguistic playground. ( )
  Koffeecat | Jan 26, 2014 |
This book was fun to read and left a smile on my face. It was absurd and relatable. How often do we have passing idle thoughts that are neurotically detailed and opinionated about mundane parts of our daily lives? The Mezzanine was a silly retelling of this internal dialogue, articulated in incredible and ridiculous specificity. I loved it. ( )
1 vote m.floyd | Dec 19, 2013 |
The entire novel covers the protagonist's lunch hour during which he goes out to buy a pair of shoe laces. At first you wonder if the guy is just compulsive in following the thread of every random thought and memory that runs through his brain. Baker manages to make the quotidian fascinating and ends up being a brilliant existential exploration.

Read this and other reviews at http://thegrimreader.blogspot.com/ ( )
  nohrt4me2 | Sep 9, 2013 |
This is one of those times that I'd kill to have a half-star ability on Goodreads - because this is solidly a 3.5 star book. It's an interesting curiosity of a piece but also nothing that is spectacular or revelatory. It's in the vein of Woolf's stream-of-consciousness but a bit more ho-hum, a bit more mundane. It's the thoughts we all think all the time - but it becomes more engaging by Baker's snappy tone (as opposed to, say, Perec's murderously boring one). Funny, observant, and smart - but also lacking in any real weight. It is the literary embodiment of your lunch break (which I think was the goal).

More thoughts of a similar vein: http://wp.me/pGVzJ-kM ( )
  drewsof | Jul 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
It was quite a debut. When Nicholson Baker chronicled, in The Mezzanine, a single lunch break in the life of Howie, a young office worker, he was hailed as a modern Proust. Eschewing narrative in favour of a virtuosic, minimalist exploration of life's trivialities, the book has Howie marvelling at the engineering of an escalator and worried about the best way to put on socks. With its enjoyably digressive footnotes, this short but hugely inventive novel helped point the way for the audacious styles of writers such as Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace.
added by peterbrown | editThe Observer, Ben East (Jul 24, 2011)
 
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At almost one o'clock I entered the lobby of the building where I worked and turned toward the escalators, carrying a black Penguin paperback and a small white CVS bag, its receipt stapled over the top.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679725768, Paperback)

Turns an ordinary ride up an office escalator into a meditation on our relations with familiar objects--shoelaces, straws, and more. Baker's debut novel, and a favorite amongst many of us here.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:20 -0400)

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