The Washington Post
House of Holesby Nicholson Baker
Shandee finds a friendly arm at a granite quarry. Ned drops down a hole in a golf course. So begins Nicholson Baker’s fuse-blowing sexual escapade—a modern-day Hieronymus Boschian bacchanal set in a pleasure resort where normal rules don’t apply. House of Holes, one of the most talked-about books in recent memory, is a gleefully provocative/i>… See more details below
Shandee finds a friendly arm at a granite quarry. Ned drops down a hole in a golf course. So begins Nicholson Baker’s fuse-blowing sexual escapade—a modern-day Hieronymus Boschian bacchanal set in a pleasure resort where normal rules don’t apply. House of Holes, one of the most talked-about books in recent memory, is a gleefully provocative novel sure to surprise, amuse, and arouse.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
“Wild and hallucinatory . . . Full of fearlessness, cheerfulness, wit, and brio.” —Meg Wolitzer, The Washington Post
“House of Holes is as funny as it is filthy. . . . When he is not writing about sex (and also when he is), Baker is one of the most beautiful, original, ingenious prose stylists to have come along in decades.” —Charles McGrath, The New York Times Magazine
“A sexy, disturbing, funny book: It may also challenge the usual reader of literary novels with its sheer dazzling excess of imagination.” —Kate Roiphe, Slate
“Awe-inducing . . . A joyful, almost Chaucerian book . . . Had Dr. Seuss been a slightly insane pornographer, he might have written a book like this.” —Tom Bissell, GQ
“A funny, frisky novel that brings sexy back in a way that Justin Timberlake never dreamed . . . Reminds us that books can be fun and sexy, that literature can have just as much raw energy and liberating chaos as a good f*ck.” —Mark Haskell Smith, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Brilliant, absurd, puerile, depraved, and completely enthralling.” —Steve Almond, The Boston Globe
“A world of universal arousal is common enough in pornography, but Baker has fully realized its comic possibilities . . . [He] can conjure fantastical sexual scenarios and unspool yards of charmingly filthy dialogue.” —Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books
“Amazing and indispensable.” —Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News
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.
- Simon & Schuster
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