Is Nicholson Baker Getting a Cut?

(alternate text) I’ve noticed a couple of films recently that involve someone being able to mess with the passage of time. Adam Sandler’s new movie, Click, is the story of Michael Newman, a busy architect who discovers a universal remote that allows him to alter real time the way you fast-forward, pause, or rewind a videotape. In the trailer, Newman uses the pause button to freeze real life action and he slows down a jogging woman for a better look.

In Cashback, Sean Ellis tells the story of an art student who suffers through the night shift at a grocery store. While his co-workers each have their own mechanisms for dealing with the torturously slow hours, the narrator imagines he can stop time. He then undresses attractive women and sketches their portraits. The film, available online here (hang in there, it can be slow sometimes), won the Best Narrative Short award at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award in the best short film (live action) category.

But is anyone giving any credit to Nicholson Baker?

After the surprise success of his novel Vox, Baker released The Fermata in 1994. The novel involves the adventures of Arno Strine who stops time to remove women’s clothing. I enjoyed Cashback but something about the grocery store narrator made me think too much about Baker’s temp worker hero.

I suppose that we can’t give Baker ultimate credit for this idea since every pubescent boy trapped in math class has probably had the same daydream. It just seemed weird that these ideas are popping up in such a cluster. These days, I’m so busy-but-boring that I think if I could stop time, I would probably use that opportunity to take more naps.

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