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House of Holes

The best way to describe what "House of Holes" is about is if your Writing 101 professor made you write 20 stories about headless women fucking Dali's iron-dog-lampshade-penises.
December 13, 2011, 5:00pm

After writing about sex once a week for this column, the once-unimaginable has started to occur: reading about a hard dick sliding into a wet pussy (or oily asshole) no longer elicits giggles or groans. In fact, I’ve become so desensitized that I often find my mind wandering out of the bedroom during even the raunchiest of scenes and wondering “Darling, might it please you to peruse some abject theory by Julia Kristeva or perhaps appropriate Slavoj Zizek’s ontology instead?”


Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes was just the mental dicking my ennui needed. I managed to read it cover to cover without ingesting copious amounts of Sour-D. I masturbated five times. To one chapter. It made me feel alive again.

The best way to describe what House of Holes is about is if you were sitting in freshman Writing 101 class and your professor made you write 20 stories about headless women fucking Salvador Dali’s iron-dog-lampshade-penises. Except you weren’t allowed to use lazy words like “fuck” “penis” “pussy” or “titties,” and had to make up your own expressions instead.

Dali’s “Catalan Bread”

If that sounds like an absolute shit time, it’s because you’re not Nicholson Baker. In fact, you’re probably some dude sitting in some cubicle someplace toggling between this website and an Excel sheet while counting down the minutes till your next smoke break (just kidding. Please keep reading. I love you?). Meanwhile, Baker manages to construct a fantastic and fantastical universe where people dissolve into O-shaped portals, Enter The Void style, and emerge into a sex resort where they get off to kinky shit like the “International Couch,” where women from all over the world kneel on a super-long settees with their asses up, and you taste their intercontinental spices while humping your way down the line.

This is the face Baker gives his grandchildren when they ask why he’s famous


I ignored the rabid media salivation that splattered all over the internet when House of Holes first came out last summer. But now, reading the reviews written by hotshot literary critics working for every single major media outlet in America (oh, and the Guardian too, I guess), I realize that there isn’t much left to be said about Baker’s latest offering that hasn’t already been expressed, and in more eloquent terms than I could ever muster. GQ summed it up best when they wondered, “How has the English language done without (words like) fuckwizard, manslurp, and thundertube?” To which I would also add phrases like “crinkled scrotatiousness,” “hot and heavy lasso of manstarch,” and (my favorite, and this one’s just for the ladiez) “DJ-ing yourself.”

I’m not saying that all the wordplay in HoH is equally LULZ-worthy. Some of the scenes, especially in the beginning, cross the line from bemusingly raunchy to idiotically crass. The lack of a plot also gets pretty alienating, coupled with the fact that most of the sex is merely iterated rather than actuated. As in, people love going on long soliloquys about the “complete Thanksgiving dinner of cock” they’d love to choke down, rather than actually going out and getting the groceries.

This is how you’ll feel while reading this book. Turned on by how grossed out you are and grossed out by how turned on you are.

Still, this book offers some great sex tips, like substituting the handle of a screwdriver for a dildo (think of those delicious ridges!). Or this golden pick up line:


“I wish I was a man who had a store where he made custom sequin pasties for exotic dancers and you were an exotic dancer and came into the store and ordered a set of spiral pasties and I had to measure your aureoles for a fit.”

To which she would reply: “How would you measure them, with a ruler?”

And you’d close with: “Probably with my mouth.”


Rating: Four dildos. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have sex with a book (and I mean letting spicy words rub slow circles around the grooves of your cervical cortex, not drilling a hole in it and sticking your dick through), reading this book is the closest you’re going to get.


Previously – Candy