Man in the Empty Suit
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Man in the Empty Suit

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3.15 of 5 stars 3.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,562 ratings  ·  380 reviews
Say you're a time traveler and you've already toured the entirety of human history. After a while, the outside world might lose a little of its luster. That's why this time traveler celebrates his birthday partying with himself. Every year, he travels to an abandoned hotel in New York City in 2071, the hundredth anniversary of his birth, and drinks twelve-year-old Scotch (...more
Hardcover, 300 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Soho Press
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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe Time Machine by H.G. WellsHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. RowlingTimeline by Michael Crichton
Best Time Travel Fiction
262nd out of 963 books — 2,979 voters
The Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniWater for Elephants by Sara GruenMan in the Empty Suit by Sean FerrellThe Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
AB Book Club
3rd out of 4 books — 1 voter


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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D
chapter 1 - ok i'm hooked. damn that was effective.
chapter 2 - already picturing David Lynch directing the movie version
chapter 3 - most genius chapter ever since the dawn of chapters.
chapter 7 - cracked book open a couple hours ago and might have to call out sick tomorrow so i can finish this.
chapter 9 - my brain has never hurt so good. total mind F*.
chapter 12 - i'd suck at time travel, i could not handle this. this is a lot to handle.
chapter 15 - whoa. wait ... what?? whoa. i can't ... i can...more
Joel
Time travel stories live or die by their adherence to internal rules. This book never establishes how time travel functions, so anything can and does happen, and it is enormously unsatisfying. Also, moritorium on using the phrase "entered her" as a euphamism for sex. You can do it (tee hee!), at most, once per book.
Melinda Le Baron
The Man in the Empty Suit is book that is so extraordinary that I am having trouble finding the right words to describe it. I was blown away by this book. Cool and awesome just don't cover it, and amazing doesn't either. Unique is clearly part of it, but doesn't do it either, imaginative is part, but not all. You know, I could string adjectives here for days and not really put together how I feel about this book. Reading was a truly unique experience for me. It was a new type of book – a type of...more
Aryn


My brain feels something like this after reading this novel: full of explosions. The Paradox Problem has always been an issue when a good author takes on time travel. Sean Ferrell not only takes on the Paradox Problem, but throws it in your face. The book has a little bit of a Doctor Who in Pompeii feel to it.

A time traveler, whose first name is never given (correct? Unless I missed it somewhere) decides, when he's 19, that every year on his birthday, he is going to travel to 100 years after the...more
Sam Sattler
Time travel novels, despite the well-known paradoxes associated with the theory of time travel, generally make for fun reading. For example, how could a person go back in time and accidentally kill his own grandfather when that means that he would have never existed to be able to time travel in the first place? But that kind of mind-twister is all part of the fun.

Sean Ferrell's Man in the Empty Suit puts a complicated, mind-bending twist on that old paradox. But Ferrell's story, while it is cert...more
Ken
I really wanted to love this book, but I didn't. It had ingredients that I normally delight in: time travel, mind-bending paradox, creepy/weird semi-abandoned future city. What a cool premise: a man invents a time travel vehicle, and leaps forward a century to throw a party for himself. Every year, he goes to the party, so the place is packed with versions of him of all different ages. But what happens when he (view spoiler)? How can he stop the chain o...more
Nick
Feb 28, 2013 Nick rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of the film Primer
Well this was a fun book.
That seems to come across disparagingly. Like watching a Michael Bay movie instead of going to see that smart, low budget indie. Maybe you wanna eat Cheezey Bacon-Ranch Zingers instead of the grilled salmon, I don't know...
I digress, but I assure you this book is much much better than eating deep fried bacon ranch cheese balls while watching Transformers.
The story is that of time traveling narrator who meets up with himself every year on his birthday. To celebrate his...more
Nethra Ram
A very interesting premise ruined by sloppy narration that gets boring with every other page. I didn't particularly want to finish it. The book is based on the grandfather paradox but the plot doesn't make it intriguing in the least bit. Too many copies of the hero, who is a self-proclaimed selfish, careless whiner, occupy every page and if that doesn't get annoying in a while this fact certainly will lead you to it -one or other of these copies keep ordering another to do something, copy X rude...more
Stephen Ormsby
This is one mind-bending, mind-blowing experience. I absolutely loved it. Being lost in a sea of me’s was fascinating, confusing, complex and funny. Every character is a older or younger version of the narrator as they attend a birthday party – for himself.

This is like trying to read Philip K Dick, where every turn of the page reveals another complexity in the miasma of I’s. this id the kind of book that I would love to read.

If you like your time travel paradoxes, multiple versions of the same c...more
Allen Adams
http://www.themaineedge.com/buzz/man-...

Ferrell has created a richly complicated world that explores the idea of time travel paradoxes in a fascinating way. His narrator is trapped between wanting to follow the script that has long been established and needing to make the changes required to save his own life. When these shifts occur – he calls it “untethering” – it creates uncertainty, which the narrator has never had to deal with since inventing the time machine. He’s never sure if what he’s d...more
Tasha Robinson
Great start, muddled resolution. The plot features a time-traveler who returns to the same hotel every year of subjective personal time, in 2071, which would be his 100th birthday: The result is a time-traveler's convention where he's the only guest, rubbing shoulders with dozens of copies of himself. The plot hook is that one year, he encounters a corpse: His own, a version of him from six months in the future. So it becomes a murder mystery, with the narrator as the detective, the victim, and...more
Sean Randall
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan
This story is based on the interesting premise of a time traveler gathered at a convention of himself at all ages, and it presents the possibility of being interesting--but it's not. The protagonist has the emotional appeal of a robot and despite the fact that there are literally hundreds of versions of himself, we know nothing about him. We don't know his interests, his philosophy, his beliefs, or his likes or dislikes. We never find out why he decided to set up this party in the first place, a...more
Bandit
This was a fairly unusual instance of a great cover hiding a dissapointing book. It could just be the way my brain is wired, but I'm not crazy about time travel paradoxes. Sure, it makes for fun movies like Terminator, but also for frustatingly convoluted reads like this one. While fairly well written, the story was just too warped and tortuous to be enjoyable and none of the characters (most of whom more accurately versions of the same one) were particularly engaging. The overall story was blea...more
Bob Milne
Time travel. It`s an overused science fiction plot device, but one that still has some life to it, provided you can either offer the reader a new spin, or find a new way to incorporate it into a story that uses it, but doesn`t rely upon it. Ferrell does both, providing us with a weary time traveler who spends every birthday with his selves - those who`ve come, those who`ve gone, and those who might never be. This year, however, the party takes an unusual turn, leaving him to find out who will ki...more
Jessica Severson
I spent a long time trying to think of the third piece of the formula that makes up this book. I had the first two parts: Paul Auster plus Raymond Chandler plus... who? Luckily someone else read the book and gave me the third part.

So this book is Paul Auster + Raymond Chandler + Philip K. Dick. It has Auster's sense of disorientation and detachment, Chandler's twists and turns that don't always make sense, and Dick's tendency to take sci-fi conventions and turn them on their head.

Telling you tha...more
Nick
The actual craft of the writing of this book was worthy of more stars, but the story drove me crazy with its inconsistent logic.
In this one, a frankly dull and annoying man seems to have been the first to invent time travel. Possibly as a result of his own nature, his travels to the past come across as dull and unbelievable, but the story centers on the future, where he has his annual birthday party. The same one every year, with all of his annual selves invited. For reasons never made clear, th...more
Nicky
Since the book's about time travel, you dutifully put on your thinking cap and hope for the best. Surprisingly, the best is exactly what you get. You are glued to the page. Feverish. The non-stop excitement doesn't let up until you're halfway through and by then you're fucked. Because thesecond half falls apart in lots of places (and by "falls apart" I mean "bores the shit out of you"), but at that point, there's no turning back. You're tooinvested in the outcome, so you slog through all that bl...more
beentsy
Okay, I've been thinking about this a lot. I originally gave this one two stars but that's really not fair.

Here's the deal, there were sections of this book that were very much two stars. Continuity issues (talk to me about the damn snow), some story lines that felt left hanging or man handled, and lack of any discussion of why the world had gone to shit. Although, the feral parrots were quite cool I thought.

But, there were some story lines that were absolutely lovely and so well written that...more
Clarissa Simmens
I'm a time travel freak so eagerly began reading the book. Hmmmm, if you are a stickler for a minimum amount of paradoxes, this is not the book for you. In fact, it's not really about time traveling, at least to my way of thinking. Thought-provoking? Definitely! What is the theme? There have been many terrific reviews so I do not want to repeat anything, but I would like to quote a line from Ferrell's book that is important, in its simplicity: "But right now you've got to move forward with your...more
Stephanie
This book is why I read outside my literary fiction comfort zones. A time-traveling, dystopian murder mystery with a main cast of one, this book basically blew my mind. I am sitting here, wondering about it all, unable to read anything else.
At first, the premise sounded way too good to be true; no one has ever (to my knowledge) written a novel like this before. When things started getting hairy- and there is no other word I would pick to describe the mess the narrator found himself, in his own l...more
Andrew Shaffer
With "Man in the Empty Suit," Ferrell makes a strong case to be the Kurt Vonnegut of his generation. "Man in the Empty Suit" is alternately funny, sad, and thought-provoking. A serious mindfuck. I wish I could travel back in time and write this book myself.
Ruth Turner

DNF

This made my head hurt and almost sent me off to The Home For The Perpetually Bewildered!

Andrea Mullarkey
This book is why I read outside my literary fiction/memoir comfort zones. A time-traveling, dystopian murder mystery with a cast of one, this book basically blew my mind. Each year our narrator (who has no name) celebrates his birthday at a party in an abandoned hotel in a future New York where the only guests are past and future versions of himself. The book starts with his 39th birthday party, the year that a dead version of himself and a beautiful woman in a red dress appear at the party for...more
exncgal
Huh. Not really sure what I just spent several days reading. I liked the writing style (though I do agree with another reviewer's comment that there should be a ban on certain phrases) and the imagery was very vivid. However, I found that the plot became more and more convoluted as the story progressed. I am not really thrilled with the ending, as it seemed inconsistent and artificial. Too many unanswered questions for my tastes, and I do like sic-fi/time travel stories in general. Oh well. At l...more
Cornerofmadness
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Breda
I know someone who got an ARC of this book at BEA this year, and I was fortunate enough to be able to read it.

This is an incredibly lonely-feeling book. Ferrell has emptied out New York City and confined his narrator to interacting almost exclusively with older and younger versions of himself (most of whom he strongly dislikes, for various reasons), and the result is a strong sense of being isolated. The flip side of this is that it's a fascinating exploration of the way we see ourselves. Ferrel...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 Stars This review originally posted at The BiblioSanctum.

So every once in a while, I'll come across a book that's just so extraordinary and bizarre that I find myself struggling for the right words to describe it. I both love and hate it when this happens. Love, because chances are it's probably something really unique, and as a reader it's always a joy to find a book that surprises me. Hate, because chances also are I would also be completely torn as to how to rate it.

Man in the Empty Suit...more
Kimberly
Man in the Empty Suit is worthy of 3 1/2 stars. The concept is a great one and Sean Ferrel does a fantastic job with the development of the few characters in the story. I particularly enjoyed the multiple variations of the main character as he interacted with his multiple selves.

I wanted to fall into the story, if only I could detach the part of my brain that kept reminding me that it just could not accept those aspects of the novel that were/are illogical. The world-building was too unbelievab...more
A Book Vacation
To see my full review:

http://bookvacations.wordpress.com/20...

I’m sorry to say that this novel was not for me. In truth, it was a little beyond me. Now, I understood the idea behind the birthday party, and the many versions of the main character, but I think I became overwhelmed when our main character began changing identities and becoming different versions of himself. Or, at least I think that was what was going on. Now, don’t write this off as too confusing for you, just yet. I have an inkli...more
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Sean Ferrell lives and works in New York City. His novels include Man In The Empty Suit and Numb: A Novel.

Sean has been published in several literary journals, including The Adirondack Review which awarded him the Fulton Prize for his short story "Building an Elephant."
More about Sean Ferrell...
Numb I Don't Like Koala

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“If we place the books randomly, how are they ever found again?'

She smiled. "The books just seem to know to go where they'll be found.”
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“The future vibrated with uncertainty. I had failed. I had ignorance. I had hope.” 2 likes
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