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3.44  ·  Rating details ·  5,491 ratings  ·  502 reviews
A man and a woman, strangers to each other, residents of distant cities, have both called an adult party line. Finding each other's voice attractive, they soon switch to a private, "one-to-one" connection. Their seduction-through-conversation begins hesitantly and then becomes erotic. ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 12th 1998 by Granta Books (first published February 21st 1992)
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Average rating 3.44  · 
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 ·  5,491 ratings  ·  502 reviews

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It's a little dated. I mean, the whole book is a conversation on one of those adult chat lines (do they even exist now?). But on the other hand, not too dated. Plenty of people, even with technology at their disposal, still have phone sex. Er, I mean, that's the rumour I've heard, at least.

I found this book by accident. I was really looking for Nicholson Baker's U and I to continue to feed my obsession interest in John Updike, when I saw this little bit of glorious literary smut. Updike was quic
There's such a diversity of opinions concerning this book that I can't bring myself to take sides. Instead, I present

Your cut-out-and-keep do-it-yourself Vox reviewing kit

This (ground-breaking/tedious/overhyped/short) novel does for phone sex what (Last Tango in Paris/Lady Chatterley's Lover/Death in the Afternoon/The Bell Jar/Ben Hur) did for (sodomy/gamekeepers/bullfighting/suicide/chariot-racing).

The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads polic

Vox… Sounds almost like an expletive... It’s Latin for voice… But also a US news website… A children’s book I read to my then eight-year old… Vox pop… Ultravox… and so back to voice.

This short book reads as the transcript of the conversation between two strangers, Abby and Jim, who connect, one-to-one, via a sex line in the early 1990s.

The brain is the sexiest organ, and the voice is a conduit from one mind to another: pitch, timbre, accent, and intonation determine the hearer’s response at l
Whitney Atkinson
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: smutty, read-in-2018
The format and premise of this book is definitely going to be memorable for me. I read it because i'm currently in monkey brain mode after restore me and I can only handle easy, quick, smutty books. This book certainly delivered.

My main thought about this book is I wish I would've read it for a book club. I have so many thoughts and questions bumping around my head, and I almost wish I had a professor teaching it to me so I could fully delve into the subtleties and read in between the lines. Ji
Nov 02, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019, worst
★ /5

This is the most disgusting thing I read this October.
Emily B
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
I’m not sure what I was expecting from this read but this wasn’t it. I think I was hoping for a little more depth. It was weird, sometimes absurd and erotic which I often like in a book, but it just didn’t do it for me this time.
I am willing to try other books by the same author though
Steven Godin
When I read this I had no idea what Nicholson Baker looked like, and thought to myself before googling him that he'll end up resembling Charles Bukowski or some pervy looking guy or something, so got a bit of a surprise when I discovered he looked more like someone who might run one of those countryside walking clubs. Anyway, this book was pretty funny and pretty sexy too whilst reading it, but without any sort of lasting impression after their climax. ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m sure this high rating probably reflects poorly on me, but I don’t care. I enjoyed the hell out of this smutty little book. Perhaps it’s only modesty and some form of self-conscious restraint that prevent me from awarding it the final star. The structure and dialogue reminded me of Richard Linklater’s Beyond Sunrise. Both have this awkward, yet somehow too-perfectly scripted flow, but nevertheless possess an endearing, unashamed honesty, which, despite the unrealistic nature of the fantasy, m ...more
MJ Nicholls
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: merkins, novels
I liked this. Right now it’s 11.51PM (later when the review is complete) and I would rather be munching a shellfish platter than writing this review, but here goes. (That was not an innuendo, in case you were worried. However, it is a little known fact that men are attracted to oysters as it’s the closest they can get to cunnilingus in food form. I was told this at a marine snack-shack in Orkney). So. Two people dial a sex chat line, switch to a private room, and have a natural conversation that ...more
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
Do you know why emoticons exist?

The theory in psychology is that a large portion of communication is nonverbal and an even larger portion of this is actually specifically facial. So what happens when you take seeing someone out of the picture? "I liked your voice" "What are you wearing" "which hand" and that sort of thing. I am left to wonder if perhaps phone sex party lines might be the reason men can no longer read body language. Gentleman, crossed arms means don't approach. This book is inte
Jun 24, 2008 marked it as left-unfinished  ·  review of another edition
What surprised me about this book was just how boring it was. I'd purchased it in college, after having gotten to know (as much as one can know someone you can't trust) over several months of almost daily calls the random phone sex caller at my college. And, as happens in this book, our talks ranged in subject from his religious views (which I found quite odd, considering how he'd found me) to philosophy to my negative views of myself. And so my expectations were very high when I found out about ...more
Nov 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Someone willing expand their vocabulary.
Recommended to Jim by: Free book with a Latin word for a title. Who wouldn't read it?
Vox...If you are a slang and vocabulary junkie who can read inappropriate adult material, then I very highly
recommend Nicholson Baker as your new favorite author.

I laughed so hard out loud and alone while reading this book. I learned so many new terms for body parts and acts of sin from Vox.

Of course, ten years after the book came out, they're more common terms. Not between you and I, of course. We're too polite when we speak on an adult chat line to each other.

Vox is a very short book, less th
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
So the entire novel is a phone conversation held between a man and a woman who found each other on a sex hotline. It's supremely unsexy, so if you're looking for porn, look elsewhere. But it is at times an interesting conversation to eavesdrop upon. I've seen other reviewers who say things like, "the conversation isn't very lifelike" or "there's far less Christian Grey in this than I'd prefer", to which I'd say: "I don't think you get it". Nicholson Baker is a weird dude who likes to tap into th ...more
Raphael Mokoena
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it

Sex is part of life,.and it is no surprise that virtually all writers write about it one way or the other, including Africans (Achebe, Ekwensi, Zakes Mda just two illustrious writers who have done so). Phone sex, which even now remains unpopular in Africa, is the theme of this book written many years ago by an American writer. At the time, smartphones were not the vogue, so this work comes across as old fashioned, and even awkward many times. The author did well to write a whole work of fiction
Many years ago, I read Baker's The Fermata, and found it to be a masterful approach to the topic of Pure Filth. Vox... Vox was just boring. I get the idea that it's supposed to revolve around the intersection of the sexual and the mundane. But the mundane was just so, so mundane, and it turns out that hearing ordinary people whom you don't have any connection to discuss their exceptionally mild-mannered, uninteresting turn-ons is even more mundane. Generally speaking, I prefer my writing as chas ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fictions, erotica
Keep up with the Joneses that the fastest and the most convenient medium of making new friends is using Messenger , IG, Twitter, Blued, and all that jazz. All you need is a smartphone in which you can download the apps since free or paid data connection is accessible to everyone. In light of these modern media of social communication, straitlaced , Victorian , or blue nosed you may sound , deny it or not, you must be aware of the grim reality that people who find sexual thoughts and habits natur ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
After finishing up Double Fold, Baker's fantastic treatise on the phasing-out of paper (and therefore invaluable and irreplaceable archives) at important libraries here and abroad, I had to go back and revisit Vox, his very well-received phone sex novel. The book consists in a phone sex conversation between Jim and Abby, two adults who serendipitously meet through what is probably a more explicit version of LavaLife (anyone else see those late-night commercials?). This, I know, sounds like a lam ...more
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 ...more
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I expected to find precious and overly high-concept and ended up enjoying immensely, and thinking about for a long time after I was done. It is basically a transcript of a phone-sex conversation over the course of several hours, written down with absolutely minimal frills (no descriptions beyond the conversation, no verbs beyond "said" or "asked," no adjectives or adverbs to describe the voices of the two participants). And yet Jim and Abby (whose names I remember although they're ...more
030219 from 300911 from ??? 90s: i am now unable to hear on phones… or indeed when the face is obscured, so this book reminds me of those occasions before, when i had seduced her on the phone, how i had made bold claims of desire, how i could say things with invisible sincerity, how fun this was. but i know her already, it is shared idea, so it is a bit different here. single topic? i prefer baker’s mezzanine...
Chez Hilroy
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
The cover says: "A brilliantly funny, perversely tender and technically breathtaking erotic novel." Inside the cover it says: "The most overtly feminist sex novel that anyone has attempted in years. I say feminist because the female character is on par with her male partner erotically. She is articulate, lusty, supplied with normal female caution but, just as normally, feminine curiosity and desire."

It was very foolish of me to put any stock in a description of feminism relying on stereotypes of
Ben Loory
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it
i'd be willing to bet that nicholson baker got the idea for this book one day while simply staring closely at the word VOX. at the individual letters, at the whole word. it's all right there. kinda had to be done. ...more
Dec 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fact that this book is written entirely in the form of a single continuous dialogue reminds me of Philip Roth's novel Portnoy's Complaint (1969), which takes the somewhat similar form of a single continuous speech by the titular patient-pervert to his psychotherapist, and concludes with the therapist suggesting, ironically, that they 'begin.' Vox is also similar to this classic of novelistic sexual transparency in that its substance is the intersubjective exploration of a series of differen ...more
Courtney Johnston
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I'm a communication generation too old for this book. And a reading generation too young - it's a book I've inherited, from the daring 1990s, published in the same year I was in Form II. I read and loved 'The Anthologist' last year or the year before, and since then I've been picking up and putting down the other books by Baker on the shelf - not my books - reading the blurbs and wondering if I'm up for them.

I'm not sure what the compulsion was that pushed me to finally pick Vox up the other nig
Gerasimos Reads
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, university
I really loved this and at first I wasn't sure what to expect but even though it was very short it was very thought provoking. It is very pornographic but very intelligent. I didn't want it to end, I wished the two characters would keep talking on the phone for ever. It had a great voyeuristic appeal to it and it kind of reminded me of a Woody Allen movie. Most of all it was just pure fun. ...more
Jul 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Ok, so I am done with the book. And I am glad to report that the book has a "happy ending" as you are bound to expect of a book like this.

I am already getting enough ribs for carrying around this book.

So right off the bat, I have to say, yes this is smut. But remember no pictures. And if you are looking for a turn on, you are much better off reading blogs or turning to the Internet than this book.

In any human interaction or even a solo experience, there is the moment when it
Peter Derk
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish, 2018
Giving up on this one. It's alright, and the concept is pretty interesting, the whole book being a conversation between two people on a sex chat line. But without a narrative thread that I can see popping up (it's more a bunch of non sequitur stuff) it would've been more interesting to me condensed into 100 pages or so. It's a long time to keep going with what's mostly two voices on the phone. Maybe it's like a real phone call where an hour or so is about as long as I can go without something pr ...more
Who would have thought that an erotic novel can become outdated a mere 20 years later. Written shortly before the creation of the internet, Vox is the story of one long phone sex conversation initiated via one of these dubious phone sex hotlines. Does anyone still use them these days? Does anyone still hope or believe to find a real person there, not just a paid employee? In times of Tinder and the internet, communication has changed. Short cuts, fragmentation, ADHD - the prevalent lack of conce ...more
Nov 12, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tatiana by: new school writing teacher
this guy... my writing teacher explained his books as basically huge magnifying glasses. one of his books, i believe, takes place entirely on one person's escalator ride from one floor to another. there's another book where someone picks lint out of his belly button for the entire length of the book. in this book, this guy calls a 900 number and has phone sex. that's the entire book. so we're talking a time span of a few hours at the very most. what's interesting though (and the book is entirely ...more
Jan 26, 2009 rated it did not like it
I'm only half through this book right now, but it's absolutely ridiculous. It was actually on the "Staff Recommendations" table at my public library, and I figured it had to be amazing since it was erotica on a main table in the middle of the library.

I was so wrong. Everything about this book is contrived and irritating. Has Nicholson Baker never had a telephone conversation in his life? Because that's the only possible excuse I can come with. The dialogue (and the whole book is dialogue, soo...
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Nicholson Baker is a contemporary American writer of fiction and non-fiction. He was born in Manhattan in 1957 and grew up in Rochester, New York. He has published sixteen books--including The Mezzanine (1988), U and I (1991), Human Smoke (2008), The Anthologist (2009), and Substitute (2016)--and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper's, the New York Review of Books, Best Am ...more

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