21 August 2009

Book Banter -- The Intuitionist

Title: The Intuitionist
Author: Colson Whitehead
Genre: literary fiction
Length: ~250 pages
Plot Basics: Lila Mae Watson is the first black woman elevator inspector in the City. She also belongs to a new school of elevator inspection -- Intuitionism, a spooky ability to step into an elevator and know what's wrong with it. But when an elevator she recently expected goes into free fall, Lila Mae has to enter a shadowy world of politics, mobsters and missing journals to clear her name.
Banter Points: Word Nerd read this one because it was her book club pick for the month, and it turned out to be a good one. The elevator inspection theme gives the book a little bit of a "Brave New World" type sci-fi feel, but it's not so heavy-handed that non-sci-fi readers would be overwhelmed by it. Also, while the concept of elevator inspectors sounds a little bizarre, the book is about elevators the same way Watership Down is about rabbit -- they are a well-used vehicle for telling a story about a person and progress and politics and class.
Bummer Points: The copy of this book that Word Nerd checked out from her library had an "African American" sticker slapped on the spine and she found this somewhat odd. The story was great... no bummers there...but she didn't know what to make of this sticker. Was it a warning so that she knew it was written by a black man and featured black characters? Was it so that black readers could find it? She just found it sad that a piece of literature was so labeled when the points Whitehead made about race and class were valid for any reader.
Word Nerd Recommendation: It's not a new book, but it's a great book for book clubs or reports for high school/college students. Or anyone looking for something thought-provoking.

No comments: