MUSTER of TRIVIUMS: a reflection on Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine in Two Parts


It’s hard to believe that this piece on Nick Baker’s The Mezzanine is almost ten years old. I was asked to do it by Daniel Green (of The Reading Experience) , because Daniel admired my critique of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach, and I remember that neither Daniel nor I could properly format the Word doc,  in which I wrote it, to match his site’s template. The resulting debut was a graphical catastrophe of psychotic font sizes but it got fixed, in the end, and the piece even managed to get itself cited in an academic work. Which is mildly ironic because I wrote this piece to be both scholarly and anti-academic:  no gratuitous (decorative) citations (of eg Hegel, Lacan, Kristeva, Plato, Foucault, Graeber, Haraway  or Zizek), no jargon, no double-talk… and the occasional sweet blue note of working class profanity, which always, I think, has a place… like all other words…  in any learned discussion that isn’t stilted and useless with social pretenses or obscurantist  double-talk. (I also hate it when writers sign these introductory bits off with a narcissistically pseudo-generous  “Enjoy…”)




  1. Gosh, is it really ten years since you wrote that piece? Feels like yesterday etc. but just a note to say that piece inspired my to go buy The Mezzanine. It’s since placed itself high up among my favourite books, a revelation, something I impress upon other people to read and to read NOW! So thanks for that and thanks for the opportunity to re-read your critique. I will enjoy, again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karl! Hello again and thank you, as ever, and yes… Time. It’s zooming! Run for the trenches!

      PS I’m busy finishing several novels, so I’m posting older short pieces these days!


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