Submitted for your approval, one Arno Strine, a bookish loner with a talent for stopping time at a snap of his fingers. While everyone else in the world remains paused in mid-moment, Arno is ”alive and ambulatory and thinking and looking.” Thirty years ago, Rod Serling would’ve sent this guy marching straight off into The Twilight Zone for some moral reckoning, or at the very least for a nasty jolt of irony. But it’s 1994, and Nicholson Baker (Vox) has quite a different agenda in mind for Arno-no life lessons, no ethical crises. Just sex. Framed as an autobiography-in-progress, THE FERMATA (Random House, $21)-the title refers to a musical notation denoting an indefinite pause- chronicles nerdy Arno Strine’s single-minded pursuit of his favorite pastime: undressing and fondling women-turned-mannequins. Here he is as a fourth-grade schoolboy braking the universe to unbutton his teacher’s blouse and explore the intricate filigrees of her bra; and here he is as a 35-year-old temp shucking down a bank officer’s panty hose; here he is stripping the saleswomen in The Gap. With lunatic glee, profligate detail, and not a pang of conscience, Arno recounts his ”recreational and masturbatory” adventures in stop time. If there were just the slightest clue that Baker intended his novel to be satirical, you might be inclined, a little, to give him the benefit of a doubt. And if there were the least bit of fictional values evident-some conflict, perhaps, or some crediblecharacterization-you might also, sporadically, be entertained. But Baker assumes that his million-dollar vocabulary and fine-tuned prose are more than enough to warrant our attention. Got news for him. The letters in Penthouse have more energy, wit, and erotic spark than anything he’s dreamed up here. The saddest part of this whole misbegotten effort is that Baker seems to believe that his book is funny. Tedious, yes. Puerile, definitely. Insulting to both men and women? For darn sure. But funny? Anything that can cheerfully and rhetorically ask ”What else was there in the world beside masturbation?” is just too dizzily solipsistic to qualify even as folly. The Fermata is nothing more, and nothing less, than high-gloss drivel. D -Tom De Haven ;
The Fermata Submitted for your approval, one Arno Strine, a bookish loner with a talent for stopping time at a snap of his fingers. While everyone else in the world...The FermataFictionNicholson Baker Submitted for your approval, one Arno Strine, a bookish loner with a talent for stopping time at a snap of his fingers. While everyone else in the world...1994-02-18
Genre: Fiction; Author: Nicholson Baker
Posted February 18 1994 — 12:00 AM EST
- 'Big Brother': James explains why he trashed the house during the veto competition
- Michelle Obama wished Beyoncé a happy birthday on Twitter
- Jason Biggs' son picked book perfect for his 'American Pie' past
- 'Big Brother': Meg on her biggest mistake and that drunken night with Clay
- Pink says she has no issue with Demi Lovato after critical VMAs comments
- See a peculiar teaser for 'Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children'
- Here's who's returning to 'Nashville' in season 4 ...
- Force Friday: See Hasbro's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' toys
- How three worlds collided for the Shondaland cast shoot: See the exclusive photos
- 8 most polarizing celebrities in 'Dancing With the Stars' history
- All the VMAs 2015 performances graded
- VMAs 2015 Red Carpet: See All the Looks!
- Johnny Depp, Gabrielle Union, Karlie Kloss & More!