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The Mezzanine Hardcover – 1 Sep 1989

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books / Granta (1 Sept. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140142010
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140142013
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,040,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Nicholson Baker was born in New York in 1957. He is the author of eight novels, including The Mezzanine, Vox and Room Temperature (all Granta Books), and five non-fiction works, including U & I (also Granta) and Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, for which he won the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By AK TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I believe a disclaimer right at the start is essential - if you cannot imagine enjoying a plotless book, which basically reproduces a 'consciousness stream' experienced during a single lunch hour, I believe it is best not even attempting to read it.

On the other hand, if you enjoyed White Noise (Picador 40th Anniversary Edition) (Picador 40th Anniversary Editn), or are in agreement with the ideas from The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life makes it Hard to be Happy, the book is likely to seriously appeal.

As said, it is a spectaculary detailed observation of the minutest details, be it on straws, shoelaces, staplers, milk containers, shirts or anything else that would be encountered during a lunch break in a city. Given that the author spares no effort in description or detail, you also need to invest a lot more concentration to read it than a book of similar dimensions would otherwise warrant - so definitely not something for a commute or a book where you will dip into before going to bed (the regular footnotes, which can span several pages are an example in point).

Finally, Salman Rushdie's endorsement on the book cover - namey that this is a seriously funny book - is in my opinion warranted but not in the sense of slapstick funny; more in that it describes a part of modern urban society spectacularly well, which means a very different type of humour.

So if none of the points above deter you or rather pique your interest, I can warmly recommend it. The author demonstrates a wonderful command of language, a great eye for detail and through that for societal developments. What he does not do, is to put a plot around this to make the book more palatable for a wider audience but then again this may very well form part of the appeal.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hushy on 6 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
I purchased 2 copies of The Mezzanine, one for myself to replace my original, well thumbed, copy from the original print run, and one for a friend. Over the years, I have bought copies for some friends, whilst continuing to extoll the virtues of this particular title whenever books are mentioned in conversation. The detailed story of one man's lunchtime may, on first thoughts, be an unlikely riveting read, but the level of fine detail used is incredible. I now discuss the virtues, or otherwise, of drinking straws with baffled strangers... & just don't get me started on escalators... Read it, and enjoy...
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Format: Paperback
Well, the whole book takes place in a work-time lunch break. As such, I tried to read as much of this book at work, going to work or coming home from work.

It's certainly a book that will split opinion as the narrator has a habit of concentrating almost exclusively on the mundane and/or everyday aspects of life. For example he comments on shoelaces (the narrator is on a lunchtime quest for new shoelaces), escalators, doorknobs, pissing in public, popcorn, paper straws, new shoes, hot-air blowers, ice-cube trays etc., etc. It's not so much his concentration on such everyday things that seems weird, as most people have probably talked/moaned at length about pretty trivial things, but it's the fact that he seems to be in a constant state of exultation over such things that is strange. I think this must be the main point of the book: To get us to look at everyday life and objects afresh and to try to see the wonder in it all.

As I said, some people won't like this. They will say that it's boring, mundane, that nothing happens. But I liked it. I especially liked the footnotes [1], in fact much of the really obsessive stuff was in the footnotes. I like authors that adopt a bit of a quirky style. After all Edward Gibbon was famous for his footnotes, I love Céline's three dots (...), Hubert Selby's lack of punctuation and in many ways The Mezzanine reminded me of Samuel Beckett's Watt which contains lists of objects and permutations of arranging objects in a room as well as many more oddities. n.b. near the end of the The Mezzanine the narrator lists the frequency that particular thoughts have occurred during a typical year.

Perfect reading for: obsessive compulsives, non-sexual fetishists, the literati, footnote lovers, people who like short books, perforation enthusiasts and anyone who prefers paper towels to hot-air dryers in public toilets.

[1.] How Nicholson Baker resisted having a footnote within a footnote I'll never know.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By World Expert on 15 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
it's style is unique for its own age, in order to understand and relate more of the character of the book, you should be American or at least have been visiting the country for some time. I would guess for the people born around 1940-1970 this book has more value as well as the humorous perspective of it. It's goes deep in details, so if you are office kinda person, read it for your own experience. I would like to read the updated version of it, how today's IT-generation office person's mind works/thinks during the lunch break (if there is one anymore).
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