When referencing the events of a day, as perceived by the "everyman" during the work day or the hours in school, it is decidedly easy to miss the details. A day-in-the-life narrative is most often told in summary, escaping the many thousands of minute and otherwise irrelevant moments which we capture, if even subconsciously, in our waking hours. It is these details - where God is said to reside - that are captured in extreme magnificence in Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine
In a essentially plotless stream-of-consciousness, Baker takes us into the mind of Howie - an office worker on his lunch break. Howie eats a hot dog, a cookie, and some milk after taking the escalator in the mezzanine of his office building. The thought process however, in the mind of Howie, is what become an elaborate mural of details, referencing thoughts as large as the writings of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations,
and as infinitesimal as the buoyancy of a plastic straw in a beverage.
In The Mezzanine,
Baker champions the use of footnotes as a steal-away moment for readers. The footnotes, some of them taking up entire pages, take the reader deep into the thoughts of Howie and project the many firings of the complex human brain onto the page. The wandering mind, which seems to envelop the theme of this story, become more enlightening than any subplot or story arc. Howie contemplates the magic of paper perforation, the evolution of the milk container, and the significance of vending machines, to name a few. The Mezzanine
is not about the Mezzanine at all, but is about a man, on a lunch break, and his wandering thoughts. It is deeply relatable, as we constantly find ourselves distracted by our own racing minds in an otherwise meaningless setting. Baker has taken the contemplative mind, and made into an exquisite narrative.
Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine
can be found at your local bookstore or for your electronic tablet.