House of Holes
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House of Holes

3.06 of 5 stars 3.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,574 ratings  ·  348 reviews
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”...more
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2004)
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Lee
This is the easily the worst book I've read (let alone bought new in freaking hardcover!) in as long as I can remember. I want my money back and the time it took to read the first 100 pages and skim the rest. The tone is off, I think. If you're gonna basically present pornographic magical realism without much character development or plot, the language should probably be a lot more elevated so there's at least a bit of titillating conflict between form and content, and this author knows how to e...more
rachel
You know how there are certain writers -- Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Peter Carey-types -- who are such darlings of the literary world that we joke that they could probably write anything and be lauded by The New York Times?

This is Nicholson Baker writing that "anything" book, trying that experiment.

There is a blurb on the back of House of Holes from Charles McGrath, of The New York Times Magazine, that reads: "When he is not writing about sex (and also when he is), Baker is one of the most beau...more
MJ Nicholls
HoH is perhaps the funniest Baker novel—U & I is a neurotic treat and parts of The Mezzanine and The Anthologist are rife with very precise hilarity—but for rollicking inventiveness, wordplay, and deep-throated porno-parody, this Book of Raunch shades the win. Imagine a pornographic utopia (the opposite of online porn portals and real-life sex rings) where all participants have manners and seek permission to poke into the desired holes, who during the coital acts never access the nastiest pa...more
Alex
Jun 09, 2014 Alex rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
"I'd love to see your whole gaping snatch hole just munching on that orgasm, just chewing on that big sweet piece of half-melted pleasure that's hidden inside you," says Nicholson Baker, and what the hell is that? Who says that? Why would you say that? Is it supposed to be funny? Sexy? Naughty? It isn't any of those things, this weird combination of baby talk and overwrought metaphor that's Baker's trademark. "His cock train was commuting in and out of her pussyhole," he says, and okay I guess t...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Nicholson Baker has proven that he can make the familiar very strange. Consider his first novel, MEZZANINE, where a man is on a lunch hour hunt for shoelaces. All the odds and ends, the digressions and pop-up thoughts that can enter a desultory mind, are playfully and artfully presented in a readable and engaging manner. In VOX, a phone call between a lonely man and woman hook up on the phone. They are able to talk about everyday matters and lure the reader into their idle chatter, so that the s...more
Sam Quixote
Imagine a cross between a hardcore porno and Alice in Wonderland, then throw in some excellent writing and some of the most imaginative descriptions of a man's penis you're ever going to read and you have Nicholson Baker's latest novel "House of Holes". Baker, if you're new to him, is a fantastically wide ranging writer who has written a novel about the hypothetical assassination of George W Bush, a non-fiction book about library cataloguing, two erotic novels, one of which was made famous by Mo...more
Jenn
Dec 10, 2011 Jenn rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
I can't believe I spent valuable minutes of my life finishing this book, but I have liked most of his other works, and this one got a pretty good review in the NYT, so I kept hoping that something would happen to rescue what was, from start to finish, probably the most disturbing exploration (can it even be called that? I can't think of an adequate word) of sexuality that I've encountered. Not fun. Not sexy. Not liberating. Not witty. It's like a 15-year-old who has read some Tom Robbins novels...more
Rick
Sep 13, 2011 Rick rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
What a great book. I am so glad this book exists. This book needed to exist. This book has no plot. This book has no character development. Aside from descriptions of sexual body parts, this book has very little character description. What it does have, though, are three things we can always use more of: first, it has lots of sex. Second, it has some of the best diction of any book I've ever read. So many great descriptive terms for body parts and acts that are always overly-purple in their word...more
Elf M.
Nicholson Baker writes three kinds of books: non-fiction, literary fiction, and porn. It's odd that although he's known for the phone-sex masterpiece Vox, the only thing I'd ever read by him was The Anthologist, a wonky first-person slow-moving story about a poetry writer and editor with a near-fatal case of writer's block. It was well-written and has a solid voice. So when his latest porn novel, House of Holes was released, I had to buy a copy.

House of Holes is an homage to the Golden Age of Po...more
Mike
Hilarious, surreal, literate, erotic, great word coinages/metaphors.

notes/quotes
23..their slippy sloppy f fountains on display
26..ease into for 15 seconds..for femmes: The Squat Line
30..all whisper, whisper (cf UK idiom: softly softly: In a very tactful, careful, or nondisruptive manner.)
32..the Pearloiner..
39..scrub, don't tug.
42..in his thrummiest voice
47..sherry cobbler, slobbering kitty, he his bulldog
71..Rhumpa unbuttons her shirt...the N Haven people were wealthy & under-read
92..whip...more
Alan
May 12, 2013 Alan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sybarites and jades
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work
What. The. Fuck? That is literally the question... House of Holes is, as far as I can tell, about sex—and nothing but sex. As the subtitle says (at least he's not burying the lede!), this is "a book of raunch."

Nicholson Baker starts as explicitly as he means to go on. In the first chapter, Shandee and her roommate Rianne have sex with a disembodied, still living arm. Baker's book proceeds from there like a whole series of Richard Brautigan's wet dreams, or maybe some of Rudy Rucker (author of Th...more
Rand
House of Holes is porn in the same sense that Vonnegut's later output is science fiction (both use the conventions of those genres for a higher purpose; that purpose ismore easily dismissed here)
but still this book is more A Dirty Shame than Vox. Vox was more fun in that there was real character development. Here, the characters start to run together a bit.

I happened to hear Baker read during his Human Smoke tour. It was in a basement with maybe ten other people. While getting stuff signed, I a...more
Therese
Aug 09, 2012 Therese rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who appreciate funny porn, fans of surrealism and magical realism
A series of linked abusurdist erotic vignettes, with strong doses of surrealism and humor.

So this is a sex book, make no mistake. From reading formal book reviews beforehand I had the impression it was a novel with a plot, but it's not really that - though characters and places and concepts recur, there's no real extended story arc, it's more a series of delightfully absurd short stories. In a twisted kind of way, it reminded me of Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories From Wayside School, if the cha...more
Tony
Baker, Nicholson. HOUSE OF HOLES: a book of raunch. (2011). **.
I’ve admired Mr. Baker’s writing over the years because of the new perspectives he has been able to bring to the printed page. His writing, to say the least, has been tilling new grounds for years now. It seems, however, with this book, that he has taken tilling to heart. The House in the title is kind of like a sexual theme park that literally sucks people in to explore the various amusement rides. Anything goes here. Needless to s...more
Michael
This review initially ran in the New York Journal of Books. I reproduce it here:

“I imagine a sensual man . . . strong-jawed, financially secure, who understands my needs and is not threatened by them.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, honey, can you please cut the boilerplate?”

This exchange occurs halfway into Nicholson Baker’s provocative new novel, House of Holes. Except 'provocative' isn’t quite the word for it.

To provoke readers is to nudge them past their comfort zones, ask them to go places they’re...more
Sara
Oct 08, 2011 Sara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: erotic
Very appropriately subtitled "A Book of Raunch" Nicholson Baker's delightful, completely filthy journey through the fantastical sex resort "The House of Holes" has got to be one of the most unexpectedly charming and uplifting books I've read in awhile.

It took me some time to figure out just what it was I was enjoying so much about this series of ever so slightly connecting and intersecting tales of the various patrons of a metaphysical, is it real or isn't it, sex resort where patrons can realiz...more
Dirk
The House of Holes

With Fifty Shades of Grey giving pornography a bad name, it's time to turn to Nicholson Baker's The House of Holes. Unlike Fifty Shades of Grey, the prose in House of Holes in skillful, inventive, and playful.

This book is fun to read; it is fun for the lighthearted and imaginative sex, and its ever-bubbling imagination and use of language. The plot is episodic. There is an overarching story of the character Dave's Arm reuniting with Dave, but basically it is divided into many s...more
Mark
After reading nearly a hundred pages (not even halfway) of House of Holes, the word "monotonous" started to hover over the text like a cloud. There is a lot of fun to be had between the pages of Nicholson Baker's latest novel, and part of that fun is watching Baker let his imagination run wild — through a field of sex organs. Ultimately though, there is no character detail, or plot to follow. Just chapter after chapter of wild (predominately hetero-) sexual fantasies from the mind of one of Amer...more
Tom Parnell
Sep 10, 2011 Tom Parnell rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Submissive lit-porn addicts
I think Nicholson Baker is an extremely good writer. A cliche-bustin', sentimentality-defyin' writer, impatient with taboo and glib generalisation. The kind of writer I admire, who can make you see the mundanities of everyday life anew. His novella 'The Mezzanine' was my first encounter with Baker's work, and I liked it more than anything I'd read for a very long time.

House of Holes ain't no Mezzanine. For a start — on the face of it — it's bizarre and outlandish as hell. It's about sex. About p...more
Allison
The book was honestly titled, to say the least. When I was asked, while reading this, what it was about, I could only communicate my emotional reaction to it: reading this book was like being trapped inside a Salvador Dali painting only with a lot more semen everywhere. I don't really recommend this book as I cannot say I enjoyed the experience of reading it. It was more a queasy, confused and disturbed feeling than I usually enjoy getting from my reading material!
Jeremy Hurd
OK, I've tried twice now, and aside from some clever prose, I just don't get the Nicholson Baker appeal. However, if there's one thing I learned from the book, other than a bunch of new dirty words, is that there is not a spot on a woman's body that she doesn't like to be jizzed on...and that's information someone can take into the real world.
Sabra Embury
I wrote a review for this at the L Mag http://www.thelmagazine.com/newyork/w...
Valerie Warner Danin
Eh, Magical realism heteronormative high brow smut. Had some entertaining parts but mostly just meh.
Laura
First off, I’m not a prude by an means. I personally enjoy a little erotic novel every now and again just like everybody else. However, this book (House of Holes) is not just erotic, it takes kinky sex to the next level (mixed with a little sci-fi). I can not really put into words how odd this compilation of stories was. Let me give it a try; (i) there is a woman who gets each foot fucked by a different man from behind a wall with cut-outs for each foot, (ii) a man actually fucks a hole he dug i...more
Michael Steger
Whimsical, Rabelasian fun. Do I mean Rabelasian, or Aristophanic? Is Aristophanic even a word? It is certainly not Aristotelean, or not quite, anyway (it does have a beginning, middle, and end). It is bawdy and ribald, in a rather straight-white-male sort of way. It is not erotic, say, in the way Anais Nin's 'Delta of Venus' is erotic; and it is not disturbing, say, in the way that the Marquis de Sade's '120 Days of Sodom' is disturbing. On the contrary, 'House of Holes' is suffused with Baker's...more
Ann
In this country you get to write, and read, whatever you want. So I bought this book because I like what I've read by the author in The New Yorker, and had read some good reviews of the book pre-publish. I also knew that it was sexually graphic given the description, which is fine with me if there's good writing. But, I also thought it would be a novel. It's not. It's just porn. But that's OK, I guess. So I have a couple of problems with this book. (Maybe they're really with the publishers and h...more
Gena
Gleeful and hilarious -- deftly indulges in the absurdity of sex without undermining pleasure. Possibly the only writing about sex I've ever read that is more about pleasure than about desire, which makes it--while graphic--oddly wholesome. Elaine Blaire nailed it (ha ha) in her NYRB review:

The wish behind Baker’s idyll is to be rid of the notion of female sexual abjection. Not only does this allow women greater sexual abandon, the book implies, but it also liberates men: the male characters don...more
Bucky Mcmahon
House of Holes certainly isn't for everyone--and I would decline to say it's for me either. On the other hand, I laughed out loud a dozen times (and I'm as tough a laugh as an Easter Island moai), encountering numerous candidates for the most preposterous sentence ever written. The engines of this absurdity are the ever-lovin' sex organs, with vestigal American citizens along for the ride to the big O. The titular (pun unavoidable eventually) House of Holes functions as both an exclusive (or at...more
Graham
The complexity of the sentences (for the most part) feels at about an eighth grade level. Characters are two-dimensional and have names like Shandee and Dune. There is usually no narrative link from one scene to the next. Dialog is bland but purposeful, with the occasional droll pun. It's smut. Not only does Baker seem uninterested in transcending that genre, he works as its preservationist. His book is a fanciful but astute replica of raunchy fiction. As wacky as the scenes are, Baker still wri...more
Neryssa
Mar 13, 2012 Neryssa rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No One
Shelves: read-in-2012
Oh, boy. House of Holes was extremely disjointed and felt like an amateur attempt at erotica. I have a feeling this review is going to be extremely disjointed. I read someone's review in which he read the first 100 pages and then just skimmed the rest of the book. I think he was onto something there. I actually read it through -- I was really rooting for it to get...better? more cohesive? not sure... -- but it never, ever did. It stayed trite, and I just couldn't get past the cartoon-ish feel th...more
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Nicholson Baker is a contemporary American writer of fiction and non-fiction. As a novelist, his writings focus on minute inspection of his characters' and narrators' stream of consciousness. His unconventional novels deal with topics such as voyeurism and planned assassination, and they generally de-emphasize narrative in favor of intense character work. Baker's enthusiasts appreciate his ability...more
More about Nicholson Baker...
The Mezzanine Vox The Anthologist The Fermata A Box of Matches

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“Will you dance for me? Let your breasts roam for a moment -- I need to see how they dance.'

'Okay.' She danced, and as she danced, she tried to think of the most delicious salads she could imagine -- with artichokes and sundried tomato and blue cheese dressing, and beets, lots of beets.”
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