Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Theoretical Elevators

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

The Goods: The drama in this noirish urban landscape centers around the city's Department of Elevator Inspectors, divided into Empiricists who look for problems the old-fashioned way, and the more controversial Intuitionists, who... well, intuit them. It's creepy. They just step into an elevator and know what's about to bust. Lila Mae Watson is the city's first black female elevator inspector and an Intuitionist with the highest accuracy rate in the department until an elevator that she inspected only days before goes into freefall. It's election time, it's clearly sabotage, and Lila Mae makes an excellent scapegoat for the Empiricist candidate. So Lila Mae starts poking her nose where it doesn't belong, and uncovers the corrupt world of the elevator inspection, along with a lot of other things.

Thoughts: First, this book is not for everybody. You have to be willing to get behind the weird, and see where Whitehead is going with it. Second, this book is about a whole lot more than elevators and their proper inspection.

You might also enjoy this book if you've ever been a civil servant and understand the high drama that the people in city government tend attach to their bureaucratic hive. Or if, like me, you've ever lived in a building with an elevator that hasn't been inspected in about a million years, makes horrible sounds when it ascends, and has a placard inside that has been altered to read, 'If doors fail to open, become alarmed.'

If you like...: Ralph Ellison, Franz Kafka, noir with lots of corruption and hired thugs, or Homicide: Life on the Street, this book is for you.

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