David Mitchell makes a worthy entry into the literature of clerks with The Thousand Autumns. I've puzzled before
about why clerks make such good protagonists. I think now it's because they witness misdeeds petty and grave in the course of their duties. Everyone else considers them too powerless or worn down to do anything or doesn't consider them at all because they're invisible. And then, they record accounts and aren't we all keeping accounts in our lives, hopefully of something higher and more abstract than income and expenses? They are our avatars in books, and the authors remind us that even though our place is on the sidelines, despite our powerlessness, and the fact that our higher ups think we are dolts, we have a responsibility to act, to do what we think is the right thing to do. And that's pretty good. David Mitchell writes so deftly, I think he can handle any challenge. On top of that it's a ripping good yarn.
My boyfriend had a much more straightforward and less romantic reason for why so many authors make clerks their protagonists. Because they all had day jobs as...clerks. That sound you hear? My bubble bursting.