From Publishers Weekly
A narrator whose outre sexual habits are as meticulously chronicled as an episode in Kraft-Ebbing's Pyschopathia Sexualis proves to be both a richly mined satirical vein and a hindrance in this ingenious, offbeat romantic fable from Nicholson (Still Life with Volkswagons), a British novelist whose U.S. reputation is on the rise. The unnamed hero is a foot fetishist, albeit a decidedly likable, well-groomed type, given to standing on London streets and posing as a fashion-industry PR consultant to ask women intimate questions about their feet. When Catherine, a statuesque, American sexual adventuress wearing "spike-heeled, zebra-skin shoes," invites him home for a night of wild, fetishistic sex, he thinks his prayers have been answered. Her feet are "a wonder of nature" and they happen to fit, Cinderella-like, a pair of especially exotic shoes the narrator spies one day in a shop window belonging to Harold Wilmer, a morose artisan of baroque footware who agrees to make a series of special shoes for Catherine and the narrator to incorporate into their sex life. Interspersed throughout are large doses of foot trivia and digressive accounts of the narrator's obsessions, from stealing women's shoes to compiling an enormous archive of scrapbooks, videos and some particularly outrageous FM's ("fuck-me shoes"). But just when the novel threatens to become little more than an archive unto itself, things turn around. Catherine gets cold feet and dumps the narrator, who learns that she is involved with a suspicious photographer named Kramer, who appears to be kinkier even than he is. When Kramer is mysteriously murdered and Catherine disappears, a particulary sinister police detective enters his life and confiscates his archive. It's not Nicholson's most ambitious book, but those who aren't too grossed out will enjoy this fiendish satire of a culture obsessed with sex, power and kinky apparel. First serial to Grand Street.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From Kirkus Reviews
Wildly prolific British satirist Nicholson (Still Life With Volkswagens, 1995, etc.) offers another black comedy of obsession, this time from the viewpoint of a foot fetishist. Right from the start Nicholson's unnamed narrator tells all about his swift descent ``to hell in a shoe box,'' giving the reader an obsessive's-eyeview of every nuance of foot- and shoe- fetishism. The otherwise unremarkable hero has given up on love but never tires of searching for the perfect foot. He has a giant archive of women's shoes, photos of shoes, photos of feet, articles on foot fetishism, anything and everything to do with female feet, and he proudly lays bare his soul to the ladies whose soles he desires. Fraudulently passing himself off as a researcher, he stands outside shoestores asking women to take part in a survey, which eventually leads to him photographing, then propositioning, women with attractive feet. One day the perfect feet do appear, attached to an attractive American named Catherine, who actually loves to have her feet worshipped. The happy couple stumble upon a man who creates specialty shoes for serious shoe lovers. Seeing Catherine's Michelangelo-like feet, the shoemaker, too, is overcome with their beauty and offers, for free, to make shoes for her for the rest of her life. These elaborate creations generally include snakeskin, bone, metal, and all sorts of other intimidating materials. Eventually, however, Catherine gets cold feet (pardon the pun) about the escalatingly strange relationship and runs off with a commercial foot-photographer, angering both narrator and shoemaker to a murderous degree. While the plot is threadbare and the book slight, Nicholson once again demonstrates his biting wit and his unmatched eye for capturing modern-day compulsions. A darkly funny tale with a kick even for the most foot-phobic. (First serial to Grand Street) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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