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Having turned phone sex into the subject of an astonishing national bestseller in Vox, Baker now outdoes himself with an outrageously arousing, acrobatically stylish "X-rated sci-fi fantasy that leaves Vox seeming more like mere fiber-optic foreplay" (Seattle Times). "Sparkling."--San Francisco Chronicle.
Published: Random House Publishing Group on Feb 24, 1994
ISBN: 9780307807496
List price: $11.99
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Without question, one of the most original and fascinating premises I've ever encountered. What would you do if you were able to stop time? Think about it. This is a relatively short book and extremely sexually charged. Not for the prudish or even the moderately straight laced.read more
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I find Nicholson Baker's work to be very uneven, and although it has been several years since I read it, this would be one of the weaker works. Baker often writes about people with obsessions, and in this one the main character finds he has an unusual ability, a superpower, if you will. However, he has limited introspection or even humor about this power and instead uses it for silly pranks such as placing vibrators in women's underwear. I just didn't feel like my world was enriched by this one.read more
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I so enjoyed this book. The "hero" has found a way to stop time but not his own time. So he gets to move through that moment in time while everything else is frozen. Frozen but very hot. A steamy story with lots of voyeuristic scenes, but more than that. Just a great sexy read. I spent some delicious moments wondering if there had ever been an Arnold Strine in my life.And I never look at a man in glasses without thinking about this book.read more
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Without question, one of the most original and fascinating premises I've ever encountered. What would you do if you were able to stop time? Think about it. This is a relatively short book and extremely sexually charged. Not for the prudish or even the moderately straight laced.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I find Nicholson Baker's work to be very uneven, and although it has been several years since I read it, this would be one of the weaker works. Baker often writes about people with obsessions, and in this one the main character finds he has an unusual ability, a superpower, if you will. However, he has limited introspection or even humor about this power and instead uses it for silly pranks such as placing vibrators in women's underwear. I just didn't feel like my world was enriched by this one.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I so enjoyed this book. The "hero" has found a way to stop time but not his own time. So he gets to move through that moment in time while everything else is frozen. Frozen but very hot. A steamy story with lots of voyeuristic scenes, but more than that. Just a great sexy read. I spent some delicious moments wondering if there had ever been an Arnold Strine in my life.And I never look at a man in glasses without thinking about this book.
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The Fermata tells a story, written by the protagonist, about a man with the ability to stop time through various means. Stopping time means stopping everything - except of course, himself. Once stopped, Arno (the main character) uses the temporary temporal freeze to indulge in his favorite pastime - undressing women. Arno has a conscience though and doesn't want to distress them, so he always makes sure to put everything back as it was. The work itself is typical Baker in its amazing attention to every tiny descriptive detail. That fact makes the various sex scenes in the book very graphic - and not in an "art sex" way, but in a X-rated way. It's definitely not a read for the easily or even the not-so-easy to offend out there. It's very graphic and covers a lot of territory.Now that that's out of the way, I have to say I really liked the book. The story was interesting, the main character was intriguing and I feel like what he does in the story is tame compared to what many people might choose to do. As I read, I wondered if the time stops were really happening or if Arno was insane. Baker could have went any direction he wanted to resolve the story, but the very last page was a great way to conclude and made me almost laugh with the brilliance of it.I believe the overt sexual descriptions, while possibly making the reader uncomfortable, could serve to also make the reader question her or himself about how they would employ the stop-time power were they to have the ability.If that's not enough, again, Baker's talent is in display throughout and I'm fond of his writing. But I do have to warn again, the sex is graphic and the language is graphic in those scenes. If you get offended, you may want to skip. His other books like Mezzanine and Room Temperature are fairly tame and also filled with Baker's talent as well.
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What would you do if you had the ability to stop time in a way that still allowed you—and only you—to move around at will? Some of us would think of how to change history in an attempt to make the world a better place, while others would be content to increase their own wealth in “real time” (e.g., steal, alter the outcome of gambling or sporting events) or take the opportunity to exact revenge on enemies and former lovers. However, to the extent that any of us actually do day-dream about such things, I suspect that we dwell on ultimate outcomes and not on the myriad details involved in exercising that power.Arno Strine, the protagonist of Nicholson Baker’s “The Fermata,” has this time-stopping ability, but he also has extremely modest ambitions when it comes to using that gift. Instead of acquiring financial riches, Arno is content to simply remove the clothes of women—both those he knows and total strangers—and look at their naked bodies. Although a pathological voyeur, Arno does have rigid set of ethics that keeps him from committing more severe violations when he has “Dropped” into the Fermata, as he calls it. He gradually increases the extent of his intrusions, setting up elaborate schemes to find a soul-mate that he hopes will come to fruition when he turns real time back on. By the end of the novel, Arno finds that one of these schemes does come true, but with surprising and unanticipated results.I had a decidedly mixed reaction to this book. On one hand, Baker delivers a richly (and minutely) imagined alternative reality. If nothing else, the author has clearly thought very deeply about what Dropping would be really be like and many of his detailed observations are fascinating and occasionally very funny. Additionally, Baker does not shy away from the obvious moral ramifications of the story he tells; Arno is conflicted about the effect that his abilities has on others and, when not in self-denial, he adheres to a complex set of behavioral standards. Conversely, there are two extended sections in the novel that can only be described as pure pornography (think of some of the better-written “Penthouse Letters” submissions you might have read). The problem with these passages is not the subject matter per se (although the scatological nature of them was unexpected and off-putting), but the fact that they are gratuitous and completely unnecessary to the main plot line. So, how do you rate a book like this? Do you give it four stars for its creativity and imagination or just two stars for its excessively prurient character? For me, splitting the difference seemed to be about right.
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This is one of the most brilliant books I’ve ever read. It is also, by far, the dirtiest. Baker’s attention to every detail—the feel of a needle pushing through a callus on one’s hand, the particular look of the tag on a beach towel—and his amazing sexual imagination make for profound, non-put-down-able reading. Best, most original, impossibly human yet totally odd sex scenes ever! Concept: man with the power to stop time (although the power comes and goes and sometimes must be resurrected in bizarre ways), uses said power to seduce (without their knowing) women. Vibrating toothbrush and avocado scene is priceless.
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