This post on Nicholson Baker's Mezzanine generated far and away the most comments of any post of mine here at WoW. It was spirited and probing, the kind of discussion one wishes every post would generate. You bloggers know what I mean.
The leader of the dissenting commenters, Steven Augustine, has now posted a worthwhile look at Baker's complex little book over at Dan Green's new critical journal Critical Distance. I encourage you to check it out.
He situates Mezzanine as a coming-of-age epiphany, sort of like a Catcher in the Rye without the attitude. The money quote:
"it isn’t at midpoint between birth and death that Howie finds himself on the escalator of life, but half-way on his journey towards middle age, which he projects (with a numerical value of 40 years) as the point at which he “would finally have amassed enough miscellaneous new mature thoughts to outweigh and outvote all of those childish ones,” a reflection that colors most of the book, which trades extravagantly in the illuminated detritus of a happy, precocious childhood. The book is largely a eulogy to Howie’s childhood."It's a solid reading.
At the same time, Augustine sees Baker's book as a rhapsodic eulogy for the artifacts of the Industrial Revolution, an era Baker (though not Howie) knows has passed.
Is there a connection between the two?