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HOUSE OF HOLES by Nicholson Baker


A Book of Raunch

by Nicholson Baker

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4391-8951-1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Baker returns to the eroticism of his earlier Vox (1995) and The 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.