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House of Holes

3.07  ·  Rating Details ·  2,137 Ratings  ·  418 Reviews
Shandee finds a friendly arm at a granite quarry. Ned drops down a hole in a golf course. So begins Nicholson Bakerâs fuse-blowing sexual escapadeâ”a modern-day Hieronymus Boschian bacchanal set in a pleasure resort where normal rules donât apply. House of Holes, one of the most talked-about books in recent memory, is a gleefully provocative novel sure to surprise, amuse, ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2004)
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Feb 27, 2012 Lee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 17, 2012 rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, sci-fi-fantasy, 2012
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
Anthony Vacca
Jul 22, 2016 Anthony Vacca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many friendly men and women frequent a magical theme park of debauchery wherein they have copious amounts of consensual magical-realist sex in every nook and cranny they find. Think of a bordello conceived, designed and operated by Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel, both in particularly pleasant and playful moods. It costs some big money to have all the sex you want with detached arms, phallus-bearing trees, sentient tanning beds and friendly staff studs whose bodily emissions boast holistic health ...more
Jan 10, 2015 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
MJ Nicholls
Dec 23, 2013 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, merkins
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
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
Sep 13, 2011 Rick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sam Quixote
Jun 02, 2012 Sam Quixote rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 10, 2011 Jenn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Elf M.
Oct 30, 2011 Elf M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 06, 2013 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious, surreal, literate, erotic, great word coinages/metaphors.

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. his thrummiest voice
47..sherry cobbler, slobbering kitty, he his bulldog
71..Rhumpa unbuttons her shirt...the N Haven people were wealthy & under-read
Aug 09, 2012 Therese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 12, 2015 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ha! What the hell did I just read? House of Holes is gross, hilarious, surreal, occasionally sexy, but mostly just lots of fun. I honestly thought I would hate this book after reading several quotes but I was laughing too hard and marveling at the inventiveness of the world to care about the ridiculousness of the language. I bet listening to this on audio would be even more fun than reading it if you got the right people to do the job.
The only real disappointment was that it all seemed very whit
Oct 08, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 03, 2016 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Do you like to eat salad? I do."

Surreal comical pulp erotica.
It's hard to classify this as erotica. It's a bunch of raunchy sex and comedy with some funny one-liners.

Entertaining but no depth.
Dec 16, 2014 Kristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dirrrrrrrrrty
Weird; I was expecting it to be more disturbing. It's like if someone wrote a story based on a dream they had after reading a Murakami novel and replaced all the sheep and moping with penises and vaginas.
May 06, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
May 12, 2013 Alan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 31, 2011 Tony rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Feb 28, 2013 Rand rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fucking, say-tire
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
Apr 02, 2013 Dirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tom Parnell
Sep 10, 2011 Tom Parnell rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 17, 2014 Lucie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book I've been looking for all my adult life - finally a porno that doesn't make me cringe or giggle. Some people said they weren't turned on - I definitely was. In all honesty it may not be the best book I've read, but it's certainly my favourite. I have now ordered a swanky nice hard back copy for my home and I'm keeping the paperback for dipping into, as a travel Bible, if you will.

Certainly more entertaining than a travel Bible.

I particularly enjoyed that Baker doesn't shy away
Karen Roman
Feb 09, 2013 Karen Roman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, this book is not for everyone. But if you have a sense of humor about sex, love silliness and clever wordplay, and think a magical sex resort is the ideal summer getaway, I'm pretty sure this book is for you. I loved it. I thought it was laugh-out-loud funny, and affectionately showcased the ridiculousness, vulnerability, excitement, awkwardness, and beauty of the human quest for sexual fulfillment. If I wanted to offer a criticism, it would be that it is entirely heterocentric, which ...more
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
Aug 22, 2011 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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-McKenney
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.
Jul 15, 2013 Billie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not for prudes. Weird book with a sense of humor-- as if Douglas Adams had written porn. Hilarious at times. Arousing at others. Disturbing at still others. I have dipped back into this book a few times to reread certain chapters, which stand alone as short stories.
Valerie Warner Danin
Eh, Magical realism heteronormative high brow smut. Had some entertaining parts but mostly just meh.
Sabra Embury
Sep 15, 2011 Sabra Embury rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wrote a review for this at the L Mag
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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
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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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