Reads like a hotel-set version of George Mikes or something - laconic humor with random precision, sending up the vast hospitality industry c. 1900-10, when hotels were like landlocked ocean liners with their own population and a vicious hierarchical system, and viewed from the point of view of the lower deck, i.e. Ludwig Bemelmans, whose family are the less 'naice' kind of service provider i.e. brewers and butchers and give the feckless young Lud a choice, reformatory or go work in a hotel in America. The rest of the book is his anecdotes as to what happens there. And somewhere along the way Lud becomes a painter too, as well as a writer. Although his apparent rise to responsibility and respectability while working in the hotel seems to rankle for some reason - as though diligence and hard work in his case shouldn't have been rewarded at all and he should really have remained a busboy all his life. I suspect that he was by no means as shapeless and disobedient (sorry, Oppositional Defiant Disorderly) as he makes out, or the shakeup given him by being sent to the US with the alternative being a reformatory, was sufficient to concentrate his mind, cf. the character in David Foster Wallace's "The Pale King" (which I was reading concurrently) who changes in his late teens from stoner to assiduous trainee tax inspector.
Bemelman was the creator of the Madeleine books for children. Before that, he worked his way up in hotels in New York. With a keen eye for the eccentric customers and crazy coworkers, this book was a neat look at the other side of Bemelmans life.