Enter the world of Arno Strine, a nondescript temp who at certain times in his life has had the power to stop time. Does he use this ability to steal, for power, or for revenge? No! He uses it as every man (and possibly woman) would whether they admit it or not. To take women's clothes off (adjust for sexual orientation). The Fermata is a book by Nicholson Baker (1994), a "very provocative, funny, and altogether morally confused piece of work." OK, I know what you're thinking. A whole book about such a simple and lewd premise? Garbage! I assure you that this book will surprise you right from the start. At the same time I can't downplay the overt sexuality of the book. It is at points pure erotica, or as Arno calls it, rot.

Arno may discuss the moral implications of having time-stopping abilities with his friends (while not actually admitting to the ability), and leave sexual toy "gifts" and writes 'rot' for women to conveniently stumble across. Two whole chapters of the book are devoted to the subsequent rot fiction that Arno writes. Now contrast that with an author that writes like this:

"I again vaguely envisioned centrifuging some of my own cells, this time for the pure ideational rush of it: I could devote a whole Pause to placing small samples of my blood (or possibly sperm, though that seemed a needlessly cruel thing to do to my sperm) in every Sorvall and Beckman and Hitachi ultracentrifuge in Boston and Cambridge and setting them all on top speed. I would be anemic and listless by the end, but I wouldn't care, because I would know that at that second my own perky little cells were being crushed into alternative world orders of protoplasm by exotic megagravities in expensive vacuums in every high-powered NIH-funded research program in the area, and that trickster knowledge would power me upward into raptures of self-knowledge and self-abandonment."

At times science-fiction, brilliant prose, erotica or humor, it is a thorough enjoyement to read while at the same time remaining thought provoking.

As a final teaser, I'll leave you with some of the more colorful euphemisms Baker comes up with for human genitalia.

georgia o'keefe
marianas trench

stain stick
triune crotch lump

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