The Mezzanine, by Nicholson Baker, was published in 1988. It is a mere 135 pages long, and a quick read. It is a book I could finish in a day.
An office worker is coming back from a lunch break, during which he bought a pair of shoe laces, to replace one of his that broke two days after the other lace broke.
This entire book takes place during the escalator ride from the office building’s lobby to the mezzanine. However, the book is actually about the thoughts that go through the protagonist’s mind during that escalator ride.
Really, the book is better than it sounds. It’s like a stream-of-consciousness comedy routine. No thought is too small, no observation too mundane, for the mind of Howie, the office worker. He thinks about the proper way to put on socks, about his childhood, about how ice cube trays have evolved, about the true meaning of the phrase “often wondered”, and about office politics. This book is hilarious.
“There are two ideal ways to wind up a light conversation with a coworker; one is with a little near-joke, the other is with the exchange of a piece of useful information,” Howie observes to himself.
(Phillip once asked me why the handrails on escalators move at a different speed from the steps. I insisted they both move at the same speed. Phillip insisted they don’t. Howie the office worker thinks the handrails move slower, because of “slippage”. I think I’ve been out-voted.)
The book contains footnotes on the majority of its pages. On some pages, there is more footnote than text. It took some getting used to, but it’s an amusing and effective way to portray how one thought can branch off into another thought.
I read The Mezzanine in four sittings: when I got home early yesterday, after dinner yesterday, on the commute home today, and when I got home today. So, adding the reading time together, I read this book in “a day”, only not continuously. But, the category does say could, not did.
I enjoyed The Mezzanine.
- A book you could finish in a day