Evan's Reviews > Vox

Vox by Nicholson Baker
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's review
Apr 22, 09

bookshelves: none-too-good, 2009-reads, sexuality, pop-culture-misc
Read in April, 2009

I have to give the author credit for bravery, for writing something this poorly and having no compunction or fear about putting it out there for all eyes to see and minds to ponder. It would be like me putting the first drafts of my own aborted novels out there; works that I simply couldn't bear having anyone look at. I learned a few things: that the discoloration of genitalia on Roman statues is due to people cumming on them, and that guys hang around the frozen food section of the store to see women's nipples harden. For some reason I was not aware of these things. As for the rest, I can't help thinking about the old '60s TV series "Green Acres." There's a character on that show named Mr. Kimble who could never give a straight answer, talking in endless, pointless, meaningless rambling tangents. That's sort of the way the conversations in this book play out.

This book is like having phone sex with Mr. Kimble....

I wanted to leave the review as it stood, on the devastatingly humorous note, but have to fess up and say the book does improve a bit about halfway through (eg., actual sexual content), although, on the whole, I have to say these are some of the feeblest erotic fantasies ever dreamed up. They all left me limp dicked.
However, there is one thing Baker pens on page 126 that I wholly agree with and have thought about before myself:
"...an orgasm in a complicated mind is always more interesting than one in a simple mind."
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Reading Progress

04/21/2009 page 17
04/21/2009 page 65
36.93% 2 comments
04/21/2009 page 136
77.27% 2 comments
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Comments (showing 1-24 of 24) (24 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

well then. ok.

Evan Which tells me, what, exactly??

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

"...an orgasm in a complicated mind is always more interesting than one in a simple mind."


What a golden nugget!

message 4: by Evan (last edited Apr 22, 2009 08:56AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan I actually agree with him on that. But, yeah, the book is blah mostly. I don't hate it as much as you, though. A quick one to notch, anyway...

I'm the only one in my friend group giving it anything above one star.

message 5: by Misha (new)

Misha I remember when this book came out when I was in college and all the freshman girls were reading the "dirty omg it's about phone sex!" book. My roommate brought it home, freshly purchased from the campus bookstore, wrapped in her backpack like it was an issue of Playgirl. She thought the book was fantastic. I found it ... eh. Even to a 17-year-old virgin (me circa fall 1991), it was not especially titillating. But I have a complicated mind.

Evan I'm wondering if Baker's strategy here was to just sit down and vomit forth the first thing that came to mind (because that's how real conversations go, I guess is the rationale) and leave it that way, ergo, to keep it "genuine." But as in any good book, most conversations are not boring unedited rambles; they're the result of editorial selection as you stumble along (you want to gauge the effect of your words on others, hoping to seduce, persuade, delight, excite; not put to sleep). There's stuff here that is so banal that it should never have been set to type or wasted good printer's ink. The descriptions of the mundane are so drawn out here that they're simply absurd and embarrassing. Baker succeeded somehow in creating the two most boring phone-sex talkers in history and miraculously bringing them together. And, lucky us, we get to enjoy it.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)


Evan You'll notice the characters in the book aren't getting off to each other. How do they expect *us* to...?

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

hahahahaha I remember why I didn't like the book. I know people can get off to each other. I mean, let's talk about Anais Nin, allright! LOL

message 10: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan It's tough to get off when someone is painstakingly describing the objects in their living room; unless you have a living room fetish...

I've only read "Little Birds" by Nin, a long time ago. I think it got me hard then, but I was younger and everything pretty much did. Not sure if it would work now.

message 11: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Interestingly, this book constantly makes reference to the Penthouse Forum magazine. I kept thinking: It would be nice to have one of THOSE instead of this book....

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

hahahahaha do straight men really enjoy Penthouse? I mean I would flip through those magazines and I'm like, where's the dick? Guess that doesn't make me straight. Oh well. LOL

message 13: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Penthouse is not supposed to be about dick, unless they had an edition I didn't know about. I was actually talking about the Forum, which was a smaller-sized spinoff of the mag which was text-based and was a collection of reader's erotic stories, supposedly true things they did. My father used to get that stuff and I'd sneak reads of it. It was stroking material, let's face it...

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, I could never believe those Forum stories. I mean, come on! Most of those stories were supposedly written by women? LOL

message 15: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan I've heard they were doctored up or largely fabricated as well. But they were pretty wild stories, the ones I did read... At least transplant some of that imagination into Baker's brain???

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, yeah, btw, is Baker still alive? He has not published any books lately.

message 17: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan I really don't know, to be honest. Have you or has anyone you know read any of his other stuff? And is any of it any good? I honestly know nothing about him other than experiencing this one book. I'm not too up-to-speed on contemp. authors, really. I tend to read older stuff.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

No... this is the only one that I have read and don't plan on reading again.

message 19: by Evan (last edited Apr 22, 2009 12:55PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Same here. I can't imagine a difference of material would mean an improvement of execution. I mean, he wrote about SEX, and couldn't make it exciting, for fuck's sake!

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm gonna Google him now...

message 21: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan I coulda done that too, but i kind of didn't care (??) haha

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)


Oh LOL I didn't see your comment. Well, yeah who cares. LOL

message 23: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan "while critics feel that his writing wastes time on trivia."

yeah, that....

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

hahahahahaha, precisely! LOL

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