House of Holes: A Book of Raunchby Nicholson Baker
Shandee finds a friendly arm at a granite quarry. Ned drops down a hole in a golf course. Luna meets a man made of light bulbs at a tanning parlor. So begins Nicholson Baker’s fuse-blowing, sex-positive escapade, House of Holes. Baker, the bestselling author of The Mezzanine, Vox, and The Fermata, who “writes like no one else/i>/i>/i>/i>… See more details below
Shandee finds a friendly arm at a granite quarry. Ned drops down a hole in a golf course. Luna meets a man made of light bulbs at a tanning parlor. So begins Nicholson Baker’s fuse-blowing, sex-positive escapade, House of Holes. Baker, the bestselling author of The Mezzanine, Vox, and The Fermata, who “writes like no one else in America” (Newsweek), returns to erotic territory with a gleefully over-the-top novel set in a pleasure resort, where normal rules don’t apply. Visitors, pulled in via their drinking straws or the dryers in laundromats, can undergo crotchal transfers . . . make love to trees . . . visit the Groanrooms and the twelve-screen Porndecahedron . . . or pussy-surf the White Lake. It’s very expensive, of course, but there are work-study programs. In charge of day-to-day operations is Lila, a former hospital administrator whose breast milk has unusual regenerative properties.
Brimful of good-nature, wit, and surreal sexual vocabulary, House of Holes is a modern-day Hieronymous Boschian bacchanal that is sure to surprise, amuse, and arouse.
“Wild and hallucinatory . . . Every page offers something smart and amusing . . . Full of fearlessness, cheerfulness, wit and brio.” —Meg Wolitzer, The Washington Post
“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 sexy, disturbing, funny book . . . It may also challenge the usual reader of literary novels with its sheer dazzling excess of imagination.” —Katie Roiphe, Slate
“House of Holes is as funny as it is filthy and breathes new life into the tired, fossilized conventions of pornography in a way that suggests a deep, almost scholarly familiarity with the ancient tropes.” —Charles McGrath, The New York Times Magazine
“[Baker] escorts us through a surprisingly delightful session of all things benevolently sexual—everything’s consensual, of age and legal, even if, in most cases, physically impossible. . . . We’d recommend it to nearly everyone we know, and no one we don’t.” —Tim Grobaty, Contra-Costa Times
“About as fun and thoroughly unpretentious as literature gets.” —Michael Pucci, New York Journal of Books
“A permanent tribute to both the idiocy and surreal inventiveness of sexual desire. . . . Attention must be paid. And laughter must ensue—and rather a lot of it, too.” —Jeff Simon, Buffalo News
“This is a funny, frisky novel that brings sexy back in a way that Justin Timberlake never dreamed.” —Mark Haskell Smith, Los Angeles Review of Books
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.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
- Simon & Schuster
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Simon & Schuster
- Product dimensions:
- 5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)
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