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Vox Paperback – January 26, 1993
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Baker's self-indulgent novel, a 14-week PW bestseller in cloth, transcribes a long telephone conversation between two people who meet over a phone-sex call-in line. Author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Jim and Abby meet over the phone when they both dial one of those 976 party lines that are advertised in adult magazines. After some exploratory small talk, they retire to the electronic "back room" for a more intimate chat. Their long conversation makes up the entire book. If the premise sounds a bit thin, remember that Nicholson Baker's brilliant first novel The Mezzanine ( LJ 11/1/88) was about an office worker's lunch-hour expedition to buy new shoelaces. Like all great artists, Baker has the ability to make familiar objects and everyday events seem new and strange. Centerfolds, lingerie catalogs, and X-rated videos will never look the same. Indeed, Vox transforms the genre itself: this is eroticism for the safe-sex Nineties. Not only is there no physical contact, the participants never leave the privacy of their own homes. Recommended, with the caveat that some readers may find the subject matter offensive. Baker's Room Temperature ( LJ 3/15/90) was one of LJ 's "Best Books of 1990" ( LJ 1/91).--Ed.
- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
When a writer, particularly a male one, writes about sex, he runs at least two risks: 1) Should he write the scene ham-handedly he may remind his reader of a little boy grinding together the erogenous zones of his sister's Barbie dolls, or 2) should he write the scene perhaps too vividly he may turn the reader off with an impression of shady, prurient voyeurism. Mr. Baker adroitly avoids both pitfalls by strictly limiting the narrator's intrusion to the reportage of dialogue between two paying customers on a phone-sex hotline. ("`What are you wearing?' he asked. She said, `I'm wearing a white shirt with little stars, green and black stars, on it, and pants, and socks the color of the green stars, and a pair of black sneakers I got for nine dollars.'") Since we are prying with our ears and not our eyes, we learn no more about them (and what they are doing) than they consent to share with each other. That is not to say that they don't share quite a bit. They do, everything from their pet names for the opposite sex's anatomy (Jim calls breasts "frans.") and the random mental images that crop up when they come (such as, in Abby's case, the great seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) to their most vivid fantasies and experiences. While even a modern erotica urtext like Pauline Réage's "The Story of O" can be boring, "Vox" never is, probably because its protagonists are subtly yet strongly drawn, and the stories that they tell are quirkily playful, dramatically taut and deliciously sexy. Above all else, Jim and Abby are so inherently likable that I exalted in their good fortune and practically rooted them on towards orgasm:
"This is a miracle," he said.
"It's just a telephone conversation."
"It's a telephone conversation I want to have. I love the telephone."
If I were a love-doctor, I would recommend that you take a cue from Bill and Monica, read "Vox," and learn to love the telephone, too.