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House of Holes Hardcover – August 9, 2011

70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Truly uproarious . . . Baker is one of the most consistently enticing writers of our time . . . Readers with a fondness for richly ridiculous diction, witty provocation and graphic sexual prose that celebrates desire, frailty and the comedy of life will not be disappointed.” —Sam Lipsyte, front cover of the New York Times Book Review

“Wild and hallucinatory . . . Every page offers something smart and amusing . . . Full of fearlessness, cheerfulness, wit and brio.” —Meg Wolitzer, The Washington Post

“A joyful, almost Chaucerian book . . . Had Dr. Seuss been a slightly insane pornographer, he might have written a book like this.” —Tom Bissell, GQ

“A sexy, disturbing, funny book . . . It may also challenge the usual reader of literary novels with its sheer dazzling excess of imagination.” —Katie Roiphe, Slate

House of Holes is as funny as it is filthy and breathes new life into the tired, fossilized conventions of pornography in a way that suggests a deep, almost scholarly familiarity with the ancient tropes.” —Charles McGrath, The New York Times Magazine

“[Baker] escorts us through a surprisingly delightful session of all things benevolently sexual—everything’s consensual, of age and legal, even if, in most cases, physically impossible. . . . We’d recommend it to nearly everyone we know, and no one we don’t.” —Tim Grobaty, Contra-Costa Times

“About as fun and thoroughly unpretentious as literature gets.” Michael Pucci, New York Journal of Books

“A permanent tribute to both the idiocy and surreal inventiveness of sexual desire. . . . Attention must be paid. And laughter must ensue—and rather a lot of it, too.” —Jeff Simon, Buffalo News

“This is a funny, frisky novel that brings sexy back in a way that Justin Timberlake never dreamed.” —Mark Haskell Smith, Los Angeles Review of Books

About the Author

Nicholson Baker is the author of nine novels and four works of nonfiction, including Double Fold, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, and House of Holes, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and The New York Review of Books. He lives in Maine with his family.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781439189511
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439189511
  • ASIN: 143918951X
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've written thirteen books, plus an art book that I published with my wife, Margaret Brentano. The most recent one is a comic sex novel called House of Holes, which came out in August 2011. Before that, in 2009, there was The Anthologist, about a poet trying to write an introduction to an anthology of rhyming verse, and before that was Human Smoke, a book of nonfiction about the beginning of World War II. My first novel, The Mezzanine, about a man riding an escalator at the end of his lunch hour, came out in 1988. I'm a pacifist. Occasionally I write for magazines. I grew up in Rochester, New York and went to Haverford College, where I majored in English. I live in Maine with my family.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 90 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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 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 sexual banter is fluid instead of gratuitous.

In his last novel, The Anthologist, Baker uses stream-of-consciousness to wax poetic and edify the reader about verse. My personal favorite, Human Smoke, is an exquisite tome that shifts the kaleidoscope on history's sacred cows.

Baker chose a small concept idea for his latest, HOUSE OF HOLES, a cheeky plunge into lust and vulgarity so steep and rank, so exhaustive and consummate, that it is recommended to be read in small doses. That's easy, as each surreal chapter is its own short carnal experience. Although some characters appear in several chapters, they are not immersed into a tight, ongoing storyline, except for Shandee, who finds a male arm, which is detached from its owner (Dave), and seeks to find the rest of his body. The eponymous HOH is the main character, and everyone else is a fornicating subject.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By JA on September 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not for everyone, I'll say that right up top. It is, however, for me. I absolutely loved it... a plunge into pit of happy promiscuity. It is true, as everyone says, that there isn't a traditional "plot" -- the book consists of a series of interlacing vignettes, but characters appear and reappear, moving in and out of each other's stories, summoned when other characters press the "sex now" button or showing up as recruiters (to the House of Holes) after their own initiations. The book is raunchy, yes, but also deliberately and deliciously silly, and Baker gives himself free reign to explore the absurdist outer limits of sexual fantasy in a way that many other writers, particularly prominent ones, would be embarrassed to do. There really isn't any other book like this.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nedzepelin on September 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though I've always enjoyed Nicholson Baker's books, I think he falls short with this one. Sure, he has something to say in House of Holes, but he says it over and over again, without much variation. Yes, sex is fun. Fantasizing about sex is fun. Even the most bizarre fantasies are wholesome in their own way. No need to heap it on. If your looking for excellent literary porn, try to find a copy of William Kotwinkle's Night Book. Now there's an entertaining and imaginative book.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Wobo on August 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First off, the only books I've read by Baker are the Mezzanine, Vox, and Room Temperature, with the last being my absolute favorite. I liked these books because they offered an inquisitive look at curious and seemingly mundane things, descriptions of the ordinary, and views into the simplest things which often reveal a gleam of joy or acknowledgement from the reader.

This book is absolutely nothing like those three books, even Vox which was very sexual.

Anyways, to the things I LIKED about this book: it was very funny in some parts, and it gave me a huge amount of "...wait what?" moments that required a short reread.

An example of that would be the part when

The two girls talk about wanting to see a naked man, and the other lady tells them they should just eat this special acorn so they do, and then they poop out the acorn which hatches into little men, which they then rub and which turn into normal men.


However, I felt like the book as a whole was extremely disjointed, and all of the various 'places' and 'things' that occur in the house of holes were simply presented and not given a lot of description. I never felt like I knew any of these characters, from Dave's amputated arm to the Porn monster in the end, but simply saw glimpses into their lives. That is what this book seems like - a glimpse into the lives of extremely horny people who find themselves in a futuristic sci-fi sex-fueled utopia. If that sounds like your type of book, then it'll certainly be a fascinating, eye opening ride. If not, then either glance through this book or avoid it entirely.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joan Price on August 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Baker is brilliant writer and a master of invention. In this joyful and irreverent novel, Baker offers a pleasure resort where guests can experience every manner of sexual titillation and fulfillment, including many that they (and we) never could have imagined.

If you've got a fantasy, describe it and it's yours. If you don't, or you stammer trying to communicate it, the House of Holes opens up to show you sex acts, partners (including a tree and a lake), and an overflow of erotic possibilities.

I loved this book, especially Baker's inventive language. Thank you, Mr. Baker, for such fine fun.

Joan Price

UPDATE: The negative reviews have my shaking my head in bewilderment. I think some reviewers didn't realize this is a *parody* of porn -- and an exceptionally clever one!
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