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Visit the House of Holes, where the motto is PLEASURE FIRST, and discover a solution to every sexual problem, insight into every sexual intrigue, or play out your greatest sexual fantasy. Men can begin with a 'good, friendly penis scrub', take the magic sperm sniff test, or visit the Porndecahedron.
Greedy women can visit the Hall of the Penises, shy women can order a partner with a 'voluntary head detachment', curious couples can investigate each other further with a 'cross crotchal interplasmic transfer'. But ladies, watch out for the Pearloiner, who might just steal from you what you cherish most …
About the Author
Nicholson Baker was born in 1957 and attended the Eastman School of Music and Haverford College. He is the author of several novels, including The Mezzanine, Vox and The Fermata, and four works of non fiction, U and I, The Size of Thoughts, Double Fold (winner of the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award), and Human Smoke. He lives in Maine.
The thing about fantasies is that everyone has his own. So while Baker (Vox) attempts to be all inclusive in this collection of short vignettes that describe the adventures of randy characters sent to the hedonistic titular resort, in the end what's left is Baker's take on erotica but not much else. While some of Baker's characters, like Shandee, who's on a journey to return a dismembered arm to a man who willingly lost it at the House of Holes in exchange for the enlargement of another body part (guess which one), appear throughout the book, most of the others are only around until they find some form of satisfaction. The result is a wearisome stream of concupiscent characters spouting off filthy words with little promise of any sort of, well, climax. Prurient subject matter aside, Baker's writing is strong and, at times, comical. His characters poke fun at the awkward nature of their situations and dirty dialogue, and in a sea of middle-school style terminology, some lines—like when "Dave angled out his Malcolm Gladwell" at the 12-screen adult theater—are clever enough to warrant a smile. Still, living in the Internet age, where indulging wacky desires is a given, reading a ramble about other people's is more of a turn off than a turn on. (Aug.)
If you are familiar with Baker's work (e.g., Vox), you understand that his prose ranges from the sexually provocative to the obscene, depending on the paragraph. At the same time, underneath the pornographic veneer of Baker's writing is an engaging commentary on society's distinction between sexual and aesthetic experience. Here, he uses an alternative reality, the house of holes, as a playground of latent desires in which characters experience their most erotic fantasies. The characters travel to this place, drawn with a touch of the magical, through portals such as washing machines and wooden sculptures. A world seemingly constructed from sexual energy, the house of holes encourages individuals to indulge rather than repress their sexual desire. Though roles and duties exist in this world, taboos are nonexistent. Purposefully explicit and outlandish, Baker playfully critiques the modern, mechanical portrayal of sex with unrestrained erotic experience. VERDICT The casual reader may find Baker's sexually charged diatribe overwhelming, while others will find this open expression of eroticism refreshing and honest. [See Prepub Alert, 2/21/11.]—Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH
Baker returns to the eroticism of his earlierVox(1995) andThe Fermata(1994) but kicks it up about a dozen notches.
There's no plot to speak of here—just couplings in every conceivable (and many inconceivable) way. Some characters recur from chapter to chapter, yet they're fairly interchangeable, and Baker aims to disconcert readers with breezy surrealism. In the opening chapter, Shandee finds an arm on a field trip with her Geology 101 class, and this appendage quickly informs her (because it's able to write) that it's known as "Dave's arm." She discovers it can give considerable pleasure, the kind of sexual climax that all his characters seek. The title alludes to a kind of "portkey" that sucks characters through various holes (straws, the backs of dryers, putting greens) into a phantasmagorical alternative universe presided over by the formidable Lila. In this "house of holes," suffice it to say that weird things are the norm: Reversible crotch transfers, for example, result in gender-bendering; women have sex with headless men; men hump holes in a sex field; we hear rumors of the Cock Ness monster; a character named Rhumpa visits the "pornmonster," who grows bigger the more that porn is sucked out of the world...and these are just a few of the exploits coyly alluded to—others are even more graphic and bizarre. Even a put-together Dave makes an appearance toward the end.
Baker explores a fine line between eroticism and pornography here, and were it not for his wit and verbal play, the latter would win out.
Los Angles Times Summer 2011 Reading List The Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2011 List New York Magazine "Anticipated Summer Book" "Hoo-boy, people, get ready for this book. It is going to be Talked About. There will be fistfights in the hallways of your local public library...It made me hoot out loud every other page or so, and on a few occasions my mouth actually, literally dropped open. Just get ready."-Sam Anderson, NYTimes.com "Even a galley of Nicholson Baker's new novel, 'House of Holes: A Book of Raunch' (due in Aug.), is hot enough to burn your fingers."-Dwight Garner, New York Times critic via Twitter "arguably [Baker's] most inventive [book]."-New York Observer "Baker returns to the eroticism of his earlier Vox and The Fermata but kicks it up about a dozen notches."-Kirkus "[U]nderneath the pornographic veneer of Baker's writing is an engaging commentary on society's distinction between sexual and aesthetic experience...Purposefully explicit and outlandish, Baker playfully critiques the modern, mechanical portrayal of sex with unrestrained erotic experience...this open expression of eroticism [is] refreshing and honest."-Library Journal
Published: 18th August 2011
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 13.5 x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.354