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The Mezzanine Paperback – January 16, 1990

3.8 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Paperback, January 16, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Baker's irresistibly readable short novel presents the quirkyand often hilariousinner life of a thoroughly modern office worker. With high wit and in precisely articulated prose, the unnamed narrator examines, in minute and comically digressive detail, the little things in life that illustrate how one addresses a problem or a new idea: the plastic straw (and its annoying tendency to float), the vacuous ci vilities of office chatter, doorknobs, neckties, escalators and the laughable evolution of milk deliveryfrom those old-fashioned hefty bottles to the folding carton. Using the keenly observed odds and ends of day-to-day consciousness, Baker allows his narrator to re-create the budding perceptions of a child facing a larger mysterious world, as each event in his day conjures up memories of previous incidents. Through the elegant manipulation of time, and sharp, defining memories of childhood, the narrator dissects each item of apparent cultural flotsam with the thoroughness of a prosaic, though wacky, technical manual. The rambling "footnotes" alone are worth the price of this cheerfully original novel.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Baker's first novel recounts one afternoon in the life of an office worker named Howie; or, more precisely, an afternoon in the life of Howie's mind . There are more digressions, asides, and tiny facets than one can imagine fitting into an afternoonor a short novel, for that matter. Each "real" event or actiongetting onto an escalator, for instanceis surrounded by the narrator's meditations on any number of thoughts or processes spawned by that event. A notable departure from traditional novel form is the extensive use of often lengthy footnotes, wherein many of the digressions take place. The line between the footnotes and the main text in fact tends to blur, with the reader drawn repeatedly into the highly detailed odysseys of the footnotes and then pulled back out. A very funny, enjoyable novel by a writer whose work frequently appears in The New Yorker . Jessica Grim, NYPL
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 135 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (January 16, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679725768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679725763
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #703,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. T. Nite on August 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
The undeniable appeal of "The Mezzanine" is almost impossible to explain to anyone who hasn't read it. Try it, sometime; tell someone "It's a 150 page book about what a guy thinks about as he goes up the escalator to his office." Not exactly an easy sell.
But it's a fantastic read. This is not just "some guy" who's sharing his interior monologue, it's a guy written by Nicholson Baker. That means he's funnier than you, smarter than you, and his meandering observations are bound to be entertaining. His neuroses are interesting, his thought processes bizarre (but no more bizarre than mine or yours).
So if the "plot" of the novel is "a guy goes up an escalator and sits down in his office," what is the novel about? It's about all of the tiny little thoughts that fly through our head, day in and day out. This is significant because these "unimportant" thoughts are our *lives.* All of these idle wonderings are what make us human and what makes each person an individual.
So walk a mile in Baker's head, and know him and yourself better.
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Format: Paperback
I've wondered that every Christmas for most of my life. It's a jolly song about "tidings of comfort and joy" that sounds, due to the minor key, like it should be on the Schindler's List soundtrack. How can Nicholson Baker have known? I've never been inspired to write an on-line review, despite having read many books within the past few years that I've judged to be excellent. This book, however, has affected me like none other that I can remember. It's the kind of book that you will either WORSHIP or DETEST. I don't think there can be any in between. You either get why it's pure genius, or you don't. This book is hysterical in a supremely intelligent way. One other reviewer compared it to Seinfeld. It's like Seinfeld with the intelligence factor cranked up to a thousand, and the subject matter magnified by a million. I've never read anything more fascinating and truly gripping. Baker has a way of describing things so eloquently and differently, that I often thought, "What on earth does he mean by--" just as the beautiful revealing moment occurred and I got it. For example, a sentence from p. 97: "I polished the lenses [of his glasses] with the fifth paper towel, making bribe-me, bribe-me finger motions over the two curved surfaces until they were dry." Those four words, "bribe-me, bribe-me" describe perfectly the motion that most of us undertake several times a day. Has anyone in the history of the world ever described that act in such a succint, clever way? I doubt it. Poetry. Read it immediately, but savor it.
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The narrator of this novel is nuts.... but don't let that stop you from reading this wonderful book! Just be aware it might take you a little while to get comfortable with the quirky way the protatgonist has of thinking about things. After the first ten pages I was laughing out loud but after thirty pages I almost put it down because I didn't know if I could keep handling 2 page footnotes on, say, the physics of what makes shoelaces break! But I stayed with the book and I was glad I did. It is a pleasure to keep up with the narrator as his mind meanders through the minutiae of everyday life. He has a childlike curiosity about the world. Everything fascinates him! He is a lucky man because he enjoys understanding the little things in life and life presents a neverending supply of little things to think about. This is a guy who will never be bored! I also get the feeling that this is the way the mind of a really good scientist works, analytical but childlike as well. Want to know if you will like this book? Here is one sentence, expressing the narrator's admiration for the way the old-style packages of Jiffy Pop popcorn were engineered: "Jiffy Pop was the finest example of the whole aluminous genre: a package inspired by the fry pan whose handle is also the hook it hangs from in the store, with a maelstrom of swirled foil on the top that, subjected to the subversion of the exploding kernels, first by the direct collisions of discrete corns and then in a general indirect uplift of the total volume of potentiated cellulose, gradually unfurls its dome, turning slowly as it despirals itself, providing in its gradual expansion a graspable, slow-motion version of what each erumpent particle of corn is undergoing invisibly and instantaneously beneath it." Whoooh!Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
After reading Checkpoint, I couldn't resist finding out how Nicholson Baker's books are when he isn't contemplating the death of a president. The Mezzanine demonstrates why reviewers were willing to pay so much attention to his more recent work. For 135 pages, Baker creates compelling reading from an almost plotless situation; in the most literal sense, the entire book transpires as the narrator rides an escalator from one floor to another. But in that ride he makes observations about, well, everything: drug stores, mens room etiquette, shoelaces, milk in bottles vs. milk in cartons, cigarettes being thrown from car windows, and, in an overwhelmingly ironic footnote near the end of a footnote-filled book, footnotes. In making these observations, the narrator captures the life of an office worker at the start of a career, wondering about why the company functions as it does and about the meaning of his place within the company, but also--and more importantly--about the whole host of mundane details that surround this world of work and the life for which that work provides subsistence. You'll shake your head a few pages in, yes, but soon you'll be nodding, agreeing with observations that are so familiar, so obvious, that you can't believe you've never made them until now. A bit dated by the advent of e-mail and the internet--no one sends paper memos back and forth, removing and reinserting staples in an endless loop from department to department, when they can simply CC: the involved parties--this is nevertheless a classic.
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