Colson Whitehead The Intuitionist: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780385493000

The Intuitionist: A Novel

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9780385493000: The Intuitionist: A Novel

This debut novel by the author of The Underground Railroad wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer.

It is a time of calamity in a major metropolitan city's Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it.  There are two warring factions within the department:  the Empiricists, who work by the book and dutifully check for striations on the winch cable and such; and the Intuitionists, who are simply able to enter the elevator cab in question, meditate, and intuit any defects.  

Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in the entire department.  But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae's watch, chaos ensues.  It's an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the good-old-boy Empiricists would love nothing more than to assign the blame to an Intuitionist.  But Lila Mae is never wrong.

The sudden appearance of excerpts from the lost notebooks of Intuitionism's founder, James Fulton, has also caused quite a stir.  The notebooks describe Fulton's work on the "black box," a perfect elevator that could reinvent the city as radically as the first passenger elevator did when patented by Elisha Otis in the nineteenth century.  When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she becomes involved in the search for the portions of the notebooks that are still missing and uncovers a secret that will change her life forever.

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Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer. This marvellously inventive, genre-bending, noir-inflected novel, set in the curious world of elevator inspection, portrays a universe parallel to our own, where matters of morality, politics, and race reveal unexpected ironies.

Review:

Verticality, architectural and social, is the lofty idea at the heart of Colson Whitehead's odd, sly, and ultimately irresistible first novel. The setting is an unnamed though obviously New Yorkish high-rise city, the time less convincingly future than deliciously other, as it combines 21st-century engineering feats with 19th-century pork-barrel politics and smoky working-class pubs. Elevators are the technological expression of the vertical idea, and Lila Mae Watson, the city's first black female elevator inspector, is its embattled token of upward mobility.

Lila Mae's good ol' boy colleagues in the Department of Elevator Inspectors are understandably jealous of the flawless record that her natural intelligence and diligence have earned, and understandably delighted when Number Eleven in the newly completed Fanny Briggs Memorial Building goes into deadly free fall just hours after Lila Mae has signed off on it, using the controversial "Intuitionist" method of ascertaining elevator safety. It is, after all, an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the Empiricists would do most anything to discredit the Intuitionist faction. Everyone on both sides assumes that Number Eleven was sabotaged and Lila Mae set up to take the fall. "So complete is Number Eleven's ruin," writes Whitehead, "that there's nothing left but the sound of the crash, rising in the shaft, a fall in opposite: a soul." Lila Mae's doom seems equally irreversible.

Whitehead evokes a world so utterly involving to its own denizens that outside reality does not impinge on its perfect solipsism. We the readers are taken hostage as Lila Mae strives to exonerate herself in this urgent adventure full of government spies, underworld hit men, and seductive double agents. Behind the action, always, is the Idea. Lila Mae's quest reveals the existence of heretofore lost writings by James Fulton, father of Intuitionism, a giant of vertical thought, whose fate is mysteriously entwined with her own. If she is able to find and reveal his plan for the Black Box, the perfect, next-generation elevator, the city as it now exists will instantly be obsolescent. The social and economic implications are huge and the denouement is elegantly philosophical. Most impressive of all is the integrity of Whitehead's prose. Eschewing mere cleverness, resisting showoff word play, he somehow manages to strike a tone that's always funny, always fierce, and always entirely respectful of his characters and their world. May the god of second novels smile as broadly on him as did the god of firsts. --Joyce Thompson

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Whitehead, Colson.
Published by Anchor. 1 Paperback(s) (1999)
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Book Description Anchor. 1 Paperback(s), 1999. soft. Book Condition: New. (Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and a New York Times Notable Book) When it appeared in 1999, this first novel from the author of the National Book Award and Andrew Carnegie Medal winner The Underground Railroad was widely hailed as the promising debut of a major writer. In an alternate version of New York City, two warring factions in the Department of Elevator Inspectors vie for dominance: the Empiricists, who rigorously check every mechanical detail, and the Intuitionists, who trace elevator faults by meditation and instinct. Lila Mae Watson, the city's first black female inspector, is a devout Intuitionist with the highest accuracy rate in the department. She goes underground to investigate an elevator crash that happened on her watch, and searches for the missing notebooks of James Fulton, Intuitionism's founder, uncovering a secret that will change her life forever. The novel's abundant humor is accompanied by a sobering examination of race—how it causes people to act, and what it causes them to believe about themselves and others. "This splendid novel reads as though a stray line in Pynchon or Millhauser had been meticulously unfolded to reveal an entire world, one of spooky, stylish alternate-Americana, as rich and haunted as our own."—Jonathan Lethem 255. Bookseller Inventory # 70323

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Book Description Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. This debut novel by the author of The Underground Railroadwowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer. It is a time of calamity in a major metropolitan city s Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it.There are two warring factions within the department: the Empiricists, who work by the book and dutifully check for striations on the winch cable and such; and the Intuitionists, who are simply able to enter the elevator cab in question, meditate, and intuit any defects. Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in the entire department.But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae s watch, chaos ensues.It s an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the good-old-boy Empiricists would love nothing more than to assign the blame to an Intuitionist.But Lila Mae is never wrong. The sudden appearance of excerpts from the lost notebooks of Intuitionism s founder, James Fulton, has also caused quite a stir.The notebooks describe Fulton s work on the black box, a perfect elevator that could reinvent the city as radically as the first passenger elevator did when patented by Elisha Otis in the nineteenth century.When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she becomes involved in the search for the portions of the notebooks that are still missing and uncovers a secret that will change her life forever. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9780385493000

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Book Description Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. This debut novel by the author of The Underground Railroadwowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer. It is a time of calamity in a major metropolitan city s Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it.There are two warring factions within the department: the Empiricists, who work by the book and dutifully check for striations on the winch cable and such; and the Intuitionists, who are simply able to enter the elevator cab in question, meditate, and intuit any defects. Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in the entire department.But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae s watch, chaos ensues.It s an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the good-old-boy Empiricists would love nothing more than to assign the blame to an Intuitionist.But Lila Mae is never wrong. The sudden appearance of excerpts from the lost notebooks of Intuitionism s founder, James Fulton, has also caused quite a stir.The notebooks describe Fulton s work on the black box, a perfect elevator that could reinvent the city as radically as the first passenger elevator did when patented by Elisha Otis in the nineteenth century.When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she becomes involved in the search for the portions of the notebooks that are still missing and uncovers a secret that will change her life forever. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9780385493000

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Book Description Softcover. Book Condition: New. Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer. This marvellously inventive, genre-bending, noir-inflected novel, set in the curious world of elevator inspection, portrays a universe parallel to our own, where matters of morality, politics, and race reveal unexpected ironies. Bookseller Inventory # 4651363

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Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. 133mm x 20mm x 204mm. Paperback. This debut novel by the author of The Underground Railroadwowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer. It is a time of calamity.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 272 pages. 0.222. Bookseller Inventory # 9780385493000

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Book Description Anchor Books. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 255 pages. Dimensions: 7.8in. x 5.2in. x 0.8in.Colson Whiteheads The Intuitionist wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer. This marvellously inventive, genre-bending, noir-inflected novel, set in the curious world of elevator inspection, portrays a universe parallel to our own, where matters of morality, politics, and race reveal unexpected ironies. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780385493000

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