HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Intuitionist: A Novel by Colson…
Loading...

The Intuitionist: A Novel (original 1999; edition 2000)

by Colson Whitehead

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,138287,188 (3.76)37
Member:CalvinBoesch
Title:The Intuitionist: A Novel
Authors:Colson Whitehead
Info:Anchor (2000), Edition: 1st Anchor Books Ed, Paperback, 255 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

Work details

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead (1999)

Recently added byprivate library, Mr_sausage, Hegemellman, orangishoranges, williamsalzmann, TimDan, KRoan

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 37 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
This clever novel tells a very suspenseful and gripping story that centers on … the city's Department of Elevator Inspectors!? Throughout the book, the mystery of which city, and what time period, are both in the back of your mind. But your mind is more perplexed about the huge role that elevators and elevator inspectors play in this society. The dark moody world of the Department is constantly reported upon in the major popular elevator magazines and on the front page of the city's newspapers. The department is split into two rival camps which are separated by their methods of inspection. There is the one group of inspectors that crawl above, below, around, and through each elevator to determine its condition. The other group, the Intuitionists, simply stands nearby and sort of reads the vibes of an elevator, to determine what repairs and adjustments are needed. These two factions don't get along, and the friction between them has grown lately because it's an election year. There is plenty of political intrigue swirling around a young black woman, the first in the department. Disaster strikes, and all hell breaks loose.

This description must sound rather in-bred and focused on some small little world in an elevator, but if you read The Intuitionist you will see that Whitehead has used a fictional setting to allow himself to write about some very large issues. The real world may philosophically view the issues of race, politics, and spirituality on a grander scale, but no issue is ever really about anything larger than how two people relate to each other. Using the incredible depth, heart, and humor of his writing, Colson Whitehead shows a world not that different from our own—we just get to see it from a fresh angle. There are several mysteries that play major roles in this book, but I'm not telling. This review isn't here to ruin the fun of a good story, just to try to get you to check it out.

(6/99) ( )
  jphamilton | Jul 27, 2014 |
An odd novel set in a universe in which elevators seem to be the highest form of technology, and there are disputes between two schools of inspectors, the Intuitionists and the Empiricists. Lila Mae Watson, the city's first female black inspector, is being framed for an elevator crash designed to show up the Intuitionists.

It's kind of a whodunit about a search for lost blueprints from a visionary Intuitionist designer, with thugs and spys. Set in a city that's clearly New York, in a era when segregation is just ending. I'm not sure I got all the subtext. I liked its quirkiness, the alternate universe, but ultimately I was bored and disappointed. I think I missed its subtleties and metaphysics. Okay, elevators are a way to rise, and being an elevator inspector is a rise in status, but beyond that I got nothing. There are a couple of big revelations, one of them about people not being what they seem; I couldn't discern the significance of the other. ( )
  piemouth | Sep 19, 2013 |
It doesn't take long to realize that this book is about a parallel universe, a universe with a city similar to New York and a social class structure full of racism and union struggles. It is a parallel universe of gender inequity and stereotypes similar to our own. It is a parallel universe where ideologies begin to take on a life of their own, directing human thought and perception, until the ideologies are put to the test of reality. It is a good read. ( )
  SigmundFraud | Mar 20, 2013 |
Lila Mae Watson is the one! I loved this book, from start to finish it took the reader on an elevator ride to a world where things are different enough to open your mind to the previously unseen. Isn't that what a good book is supposed to do? Riding an elevator will never seem the same again. ( )
  deborahk | Feb 4, 2013 |
This was my introduction to Colson Whitehead and I was impressed. The Intuitionist takes place in a city (implicitly, New York) full of skyscrapers and other buildings requiring vertical transportation in the form of elevators. The time, never identified explicitly, is one when black people are called "colored" and integration is a current topic. The protagonist is Lila Mae Watson, an elevator inspector of the "Intuitionist" school. The Intuitionists practice an inspecting method by which they ride in an elevator and intuit the state of the elevator and its related systems. The competing school, the "Empiricists," insists upon traditional instrument-based verification of the condition of the elevator. Watson is the second black inspector and the first black female inspector in the city. The failure of an elevator the Lila Mae had inspected leads to a search for the roots of intuitionism. The result is a metaphysical meditation on the possibility of a perfect elevator. For those, like this reader, who are interested in ideas this is a great read and an auspicious start for the author. ( )
  jwhenderson | Dec 19, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385493002, Paperback)

Verticality, architectural and social, is the lofty idea at the heart of Colson Whitehead's odd, sly, and ultimately irresistible first novel. The setting is an unnamed though obviously New Yorkish high-rise city, the time less convincingly future than deliciously other, as it combines 21st-century engineering feats with 19th-century pork-barrel politics and smoky working-class pubs. Elevators are the technological expression of the vertical idea, and Lila Mae Watson, the city's first black female elevator inspector, is its embattled token of upward mobility.

Lila Mae's good ol' boy colleagues in the Department of Elevator Inspectors are understandably jealous of the flawless record that her natural intelligence and diligence have earned, and understandably delighted when Number Eleven in the newly completed Fanny Briggs Memorial Building goes into deadly free fall just hours after Lila Mae has signed off on it, using the controversial "Intuitionist" method of ascertaining elevator safety. It is, after all, an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the Empiricists would do most anything to discredit the Intuitionist faction. Everyone on both sides assumes that Number Eleven was sabotaged and Lila Mae set up to take the fall. "So complete is Number Eleven's ruin," writes Whitehead, "that there's nothing left but the sound of the crash, rising in the shaft, a fall in opposite: a soul." Lila Mae's doom seems equally irreversible.

Whitehead evokes a world so utterly involving to its own denizens that outside reality does not impinge on its perfect solipsism. We the readers are taken hostage as Lila Mae strives to exonerate herself in this urgent adventure full of government spies, underworld hit men, and seductive double agents. Behind the action, always, is the Idea. Lila Mae's quest reveals the existence of heretofore lost writings by James Fulton, father of Intuitionism, a giant of vertical thought, whose fate is mysteriously entwined with her own. If she is able to find and reveal his plan for the Black Box, the perfect, next-generation elevator, the city as it now exists will instantly be obsolescent. The social and economic implications are huge and the denouement is elegantly philosophical. Most impressive of all is the integrity of Whitehead's prose. Eschewing mere cleverness, resisting showoff word play, he somehow manages to strike a tone that's always funny, always fierce, and always entirely respectful of his characters and their world. May the god of second novels smile as broadly on him as did the god of firsts. --Joyce Thompson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:38 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An elevator inspector becomes the center of controversy when an elevator crashes. The inspector, Lila Mae Watson, is a black woman who inspects by intuition, as opposed to visual observation, and now she must prove her method was not at fault. A study of society's attitude to technology and a debut in fiction.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
4 avail.
67 wanted
2 pay3 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.76)
0.5 1
1 2
1.5 5
2 10
2.5 4
3 63
3.5 17
4 92
4.5 13
5 52

Audible.com

Two editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,366,312 books! | Top bar: Always visible