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The Verificationist

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  718 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
Twenty psychoanalysts and a narrator meet for dinner in a pancake house. The narrator, Tom, finds himself locked in a bear hug by Bernhardt, the father figure of the group. The effects are disastrous as he is forced into an out-of-body experience and watches as his friendships and marriage unravel.
Published April 1st 2005 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published February 15th 2000)
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Gary Barwin
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life, I think, is like eating pancakes at night: full of compulsion, sweetness, regret, heaviness, strange incongruity, and, if the ingredients are just right, a surprising grace.

In this brilliant, witty, and insightful short novel by Donald Antrim, a group of psychologists meet for a pancake supper one evening. Not much happens. They talk both shop & gossip, they flirt and argue, and the narrator, whose narration is rich with astoundingly witty, inventive, insightful, sad, and hopeful lang
Krok Zero
Jul 04, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fall-2010
I don't use the P-word lightly, so you can be assured of my certitude when I tell you that this book is some pretentious-ass bullshit.
Marc Kozak
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book happened to catch me at the exact point in my life where it would be the most uncomfortable.

I get pretty down on myself around my birthday, which I know is pretty ridiculous, but here we are. This most recent one was probably the toughest yet -- without wallowing too much in self-pity, I'll just say that I'm not exactly where I thought I'd be at 31 years of age in terms of my career, finances, creative goals, or most importantly, relationships. I'm acutely aware of time passing these d
Feb 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone on a 2 to 3 hour flight
I recommend this to the reader with a 2 to 3 hour flight because, like the compact little snack you'll probably get on the flight, this is a compact little book that you could probably finish off before you touch down to wherever you're going. Try starting the book in line at the airline consul and continue reading as you taxi around the runway for take off, then you should leave the ground at just about the same time the narrator does. It'll be like you're living the book! As the summary on the ...more
Sabra Embury
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the Postal Service's Such Great Heights pops into your head more than once while reading The Verificationist don't be surprised, since most of the story takes place in the cloud layer of a pancake house. The protagonist--whose lengthy astral projection is the result of a homoerotic bear hug: floats as he admires his server, thinks about his wife, picks apart his co-workers, all while provoking a few debates within his introspective search for a comfortable state of maturity.

Antrim's brand of
Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Antrim is one of my favorite writers, but he had more fun with this book than I did as a reader. George Saunders' intro nails it: the writer is like a dog rolling around in the grass without a care in the world. Which is both delightful and, ultimately, tiresome.

Still, I'm glad I read the book. Its humanity and humor are indispensable, and, like the Hundred Brothers, written amazingly in real time with only minor reflections on the past.

I don't resent being frustrated by a great writer like Ant
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the few American novels I've read more than once, and one of even fewer published in the last 30 years that doesn't make me want to hold my head under a massive magnet until it erases all knowledge I have of the language. I first read the excerpt that was published in the new yorker in 99 or 2000 and couldn't believe that they actually published a decent piece of fiction. Astonishing. I waited for the book to come out and it far exceeded what the excerpt set up. So much humor plus ...more
John Pappas
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Regarded only through the lenses of magic realism or surrealism, this book is a hilarious (albeit in an entirely disturbing and discomfiting manner) and occasionally poignant story of an adult male trying to simultaneously avoid and claim his status as a man. But Antrim seems to not be writing a narrative only about this character's dream-like journey (or lack thereof). His deft use of these techniques to heighten the disassociative state of the narrator, to lend it greater realness and credence ...more
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: postmoderni
o del surrealismo fatto arte

Tom è uno psicologo, e come molti che fanno questo mestiere tende a manipolare, analizzare e attribuire significati un po' a caso
una sera durante una cena coi colleghi in una tavola calda che serve solo pancakes la faccenda assume connotati surreali, certo che se uno psicologo lancia briciole di pane è normale che i colleghi psicologi infantili, essendo lesti a capire i gesti ludici, alzino i menù tutti insieme come un sol uomo per ripararsi, del resto le farneticazio
Jun 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
And now, a scene from the Simpsons that encapsulates my feelings towards this book:

Moe has radically remodeled his bar, and it is now filled with assorted eurotrash, yuppies and pseudo-hipsters. Homer and friends appear at the grand re-opening and are taken aback by the crowd and environment. Looking up at a TV above the bar that is showing an image of an eyeball blinking and looking wildly around, they ask him what the hell it's for. "It's po-mo" says Moe. This elicits no reply from the guys. "
Josh Friedlander
Antrim is the master of the casually bizarre. In crisp, fact-laden descriptions, he gives the reader a perfectly ordinary world scarred by just one or two total strokes of insanity, making his short books both archly comic and deeply unsettling. A genealogy of his influencers could include Charlie Kaufmann, Woodie Allen's neurotic monologues, and Kafka's Metamorphosis, but you don't really need to go past Donald Barthelme (Antrim discusses this in a wonderful retrospective by John Jeremiah Sulli ...more
Marco Kaye
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wild, funny and dreamlike in the truest sense (in that, at the end, you are left scratching your head, wondering what it means). But there are so many great moments. Antrim is clearly toking off the Saunders bong. If I had to guess at what this book is about, and it's one of those books where the author's genius is foregrounded, I would say the Verificationist is about the impossibility and subsequent infinite longing for human connection, as well as the sadness that results when someone looks a ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite how much I look for strange fiction, this is one of the more unique novels I've managed to come across in a long time. It's premise, it's style, it's language, it's characters, it's everything are as fresh and interesting as anything I've seen in a long time. It is a real pleasure to read. I just got into it right form the first page and remained just as interested all the way through. There is wonderful humor as well. Really, it is a wonderful book.
Feb 17, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 16, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes a book makes you appreciate how hard it must be to write a really great book.
Scott Fishwick
Fans of Antrim's bizarre brand of absurdist comedy will not be disappointed. That said, The Hundred Brothers is a far superior work. So, three stars.
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly pleasing nugget.
Margaret Carmel
This book is really weird. There were things I loved and things I didn't quite connect with here, so overall a mixed bag.

The premise of this book is that a troubled psychologist goes out to dinner with his coworkers at a pancake restaurant. He decides to throw a piece of toast, gets put in a bear hug by another coworker to stop him from throwing the toast, and then he ends up having an out of body contemplative experience for the next 150 pages or so.

The main character Tom is struggling with a
Matt Clements
When will these people get out of this pancake house???
Oct 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: character, funny
Imagine The Homecoming mixed with A Confederacy of Dunces. Somehow, despite the book being mostly internal emotions, reflections, thought processes, memories, and tangents, I think it would work well as an absurdist play.

The book takes place almost entirely at a pancake restaurant where our hero, Tom, has invited his psychotherapist colleagues to dinner. It also almost entirely takes place while Tom is being held tightly in the arms of his corpulent coworker, Richard, ostensibly to prevent Tom
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i didn't like this as much as elect mr robinson for a better world, or one hundred brothers. the verifcationist had far less of the vitality and rocket fuel. the mania of the protagonist was deeply reflective, perhaps whereas the other characters in EMRFABW and 100 Bros, were nearly oblivious about their psychological unmoorings. those protagonists also were essentially extremists in a extreme world, that was only slightly distorted from our own, and thus served as a fascinating commentary on mo ...more
Jun 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One review drew a strong parrallel between The Verificationist and the recent book, Atmospheric Disturbances. Of the two, I prefer the Verificationist because although it supposedly all takes place within a pancake house, things ACTUALLY HAPPEN in this book. The pilgrim's self-aware, pursues fantasies, and changes, whereas in Atmospheric Disturbances, as clever as it was, the book itself was one big disturbance. The protagonist moves around the planet but stays locked within his delusions.

To be
Josh Luft
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Donald Antrim is a writer who I've only discovered recently, which has left me cursing the time I wasted not knowing him. It's not unlike my experience with George Saunders several years ago—who wrote the introduction to The Verificationist and is, unsurprisingly, a fan. Antrim, like Saunders, is a master of surrealism, compassion, and humor. He's a man after my own heart.

In The Verificationist, our narrator, Tom, a psychologist at the Krakower Institute in New England, invites his colleagu
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I know you were in pain. But other people’s pain is funny, don’t you think?”
This line is uttered at the two-thirds mark. Read out context, you could easily assume that this is a cruel bastard of a person but allow me to assure you that she is actually a beautiful teenaged waitress who had just been cajoled by a dysfunctional therapist into joining him into a levitation by the ceiling of a pancake restaurant.
The incident to which she is referring was when Tom, the aforementioned therapist, near
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The verificationist", wat een titel. Nog voor je één letter gelezen hebt zoek je al naar de betekenis van dit woord, dat amper vertaald kan worden naar het Nederlands. Het boek startte met een heleboel existentiële overpeinzingen, vervlochten in een verhaal over een kinderloos koppel, waarvan de man - temidden van zijn midlife/identiteitscrisis - menig zinvolle psychologische (analystische) theoriëen verkondigde, zowel tegen zijn vrouw als tegen zijn collega's, waarmee hij een pannenkoekendiner ...more
Dec 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
time has come to a chokehold halt.
"We respect one another's shame. Let me say in this light that I take no special pleasure in reporting on my bowel movements, and would not do so for one minute were it not for the fact that Jane was showing no sign of leaving the bathroom. In the meantime I was chattering and pontificating, loudly, to cover the unromantic, humbling sound of shit hitting the water. 'It is not unusual,' I announced from the toilet, 'to invest other people with precisely those qu
Dec 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Donald is certainly a talented writer and arguably deserves to be recognized by the NYT as a Notable Book, if for no other reason than he is one to watch. I enjoyed the book, just fine, found the convention he used in which to tell his story comfortable enough for me to fall in line with. However, my problem with the book seems to be my problem with a lot of "post-modern", "contemporary", "literary fiction" hitting the shelves these days: Clever premise, but perhaps not dimensional enough to ser ...more
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember the strangeness of reading Beckett's Molloy the first time. The strangeness of reading that book was like the strangeness of reading this book. At times, I found the strangeness completely absorbing and felt that it worked as a way of expressing something that a more traditional mode of writing couldn't really express -- something about, say, the "reality" of our fantasies and nightmares exceeding the "reality" of the ordinary and mundane, about the intensity of desire, about the comp ...more
Robert Wechsler
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
This is one of the most successful novels in terms of employing surreal approaches. One reason seems to be that the novel's surreality is introduced gradually, and the author manages to make it seem both real and the protagonist's fantasy in the midst of what appears to be a nervous breakdown. It is both funny and sad, and yet not too funny nor too sad. What is also wonderful about the novel's surreality is that it is very limited -- e.g., the protagonist floating up toward the ceiling of a panc ...more
Ian Mathers
Oct 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This one, my favourite of the Antrim I've read so far, is probably close to 3.5, but not so much so I'm going to bump it up. For the first time some of Antrim's tics, the predictably unlikable male narrators and staid satires of/homages to a certain kind of masculinity (I'm not sure which he intends, but it comes off as both), the ridiculous female characters, the half-baked resolution, actually work for him; this is his only narrator that seems to actually change in even minuscule ways over the ...more
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Donald Antrim is an American novelist. His first novel, Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, was published in 1993. In 1999 The New Yorker named him as among the twenty best writers under the age of forty.

Antrim is a frequent contributor of fiction to The New Yorker and has written a number of critically acclaimed novels, including The Verificationist and The Hundred Brothers, which was a finali
More about Donald Antrim...

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“There is nothing more seductive — and dangerous — than being listened to.” 8 likes
“We eat pancakes to escape loneliness, yet within moments we want nothing more than our freedom from ever having so much as thought about pancakes.” 8 likes
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