15

WEDNESDAY

One hundred forty-nine pages of Donald Antrim’s new novel, The Verificationist, take place as protagonist Tom is restrained by a fellow psychotherapist from hurling cinnamon-raisin toast—”The child psychologists all saw what was coming and hid behind menus”—at his colleagues, who have gathered to chat over a pancake supper. Like Nicholson Baker in The Mezzanine, Antrim explodes a series of tiny moments to illuminate the whole sad, funny state of Tom’s life. Whereas Baker expanded upon the minutiae of purchasing a pair of shoelaces, Antrim uses the excrutiae of Tom’s compulsion to overanalyze every word and action to uncover devastating insights: Reflecting on a minor conflict with his wife, Tom realizes that “‘What color do you want to paint that upstairs room?’ might, if we follow things to their logical conclusions, be stated: ‘How do I live, knowing that I will one day die and leave you?’” Antrim reads from his new book at 7 p.m. at Chapters, 1512 K St. NW. Free. (202) 347-5495. (Janet Hopf)