The Mezzanine, by Nicholson Baker

I love ephemeron and always study it patiently. Almost as if it were part of the novel whose pages I’m turning. It’s a clue worthy of attention. Scrawled on the title page of my used copy of Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine are these words, in their relative position, too.

             June 2003
Rich,
Mabe the problem
is you can only
write one of
these.
           John

It appears that Rich is a novelist or a writer of some sort. Damn, would that I could buy a last name from Pat Sajak right about now! I’m a natural enquirer, you see. I desperately want to know if Rich is a wannabe or if he’s really got the goods.

You will have noticed that John, like the rest of us, is prone to mental slippages. His brain is traveling faster than his clumsy hand. Undoubtedly, in his mind’s eye, he sees the “y” of “you” just as his hand is completing the “a” in “Mabe,” with the result that this nifty divining rod of a letter gets carelessly dropped. Mabe happens.

Differential speed is the mother of many spelling mistakes. That’s a fact.

Rich isn’t a casual reader, either. No, he reads with intention and directed concentration. On the first page, he carefully underlines a word or a combination of words 9 times in pencil. The lines are straight. Neat. But something happens in Rich’s reading experience. Not pleasant, I gather, judging by the complete absence of pencil marks beyond page one. He stops reading. Quite abruptly, too.

This doesn’t bode well for my reading of The Mezzanine.

Serendipitously, the last words he underlines are these, “the curve of each fan blade picks up the light for an instant on its circuit and then hands it off to its successor.”

I am Rich’s successor and will make his frustration manifest. Soon.

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One Response to The Mezzanine, by Nicholson Baker

  1. […] complements Marshall’s article with not one but two pieces on Baker’s The […]

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