Visit the House of Holes, where the motto is PLEASURE FIRST, and discover a solution to every sexual problem, insight into every sexual intrigue, or play out your greatest sexual fantasy. Men can begin with a ‘good, friendly penis scrub’, take the magic sperm sniff test, or visit the Porndecahedron. Greedy women can visit the Hall of the Penises, shy women can order a partner with a ‘voluntary head detachment’, curious couples can investigate each other further with a ‘cross crotchal interplasmic transfer’. But ladies, watch out for the Pearloiner, who might just steal from you what you cherish most …
Sometimes you need more than Dick For a Day and nothing short of a cross-crotchal plasmic transfer will satisfy you. How many of you guys out there would trade your bulgy bits for your very own lettuce patch? How would it feel to do the triple-X dirty nasty from the other side? Would you trade your head for a chance?
Nicholson Baker’s novel, House of Holes, is our most recent example of an accomplished writer trying his hand at writing something that is unbelievably obscene but at the same time fun and somewhat satirical targeted at our lame acceptance of sexuality. By creating a Wonderland of highly sexual E-ticket rides and events, allowing for cartoon effects to be seen as real, the concentration of the thoughts and actions of every character in the book on sex and ticklish depravity creates an overload and the reader can step back and just enjoy the absurdity and imaginatively of the book without being skeeved out by the gross and animalistic world of normal human sexuality.
Baker, however, is just following many other writers who went before. I discussed the novel Candy by Terry Southern (Maxwell Kenton) in an earlier post. Candy was a filthy, obscene romp through a fantasy world that could only be imagined in a wet-dream. It was also fun, peppy (one might say spunky here), and quite delightful. The are other novels: some which make hardcore sex funny and others which turn sexuality into a fantasy world. Have you read Dan Wakefield’s Going All the Way? Did you really take Philip Roth’s novel Portnoy’s Complaint seriously? How about Chewsday by Dan Greenburg or Naked Came the Stranger by a host of authors. And if you want to be honest, think of all the laughs in 50 Shades of Gray or just about any smutty novel by right-wing family-values proponents who also write pornography for the less-literate (this includes Bill O’Reilly).
Yes, there are many examples of obscenity carried to absurdity in literature. Baker’s try at the field is probably more sustained than most and does show a lot of imagination. But House of Holes is obviously a fantasy (it might be deemed Bizarro fiction) and to some extent that softens the humor. It’s when a self-appointed serious writer drops some of these absurd workarounds for the language of FUCK that we really can see the dark and disturbed humor which lurks behind our outdated Puritanical adolescent approach to human sexuality.
Just a short excerpt to better suggest the titilating prose in this novel:
… when Glenn touched her clit with his thumb she winked down full force on his restored dicktitude, and that was enough to start the Atlas-shrug shudderation of arrival that made her shiver her way through seven, eight, nine, twelve seconds of worldwide interplanetary flux orgasmic strobing happy unmatched tired coughing ebbing thrilled spent ecstasy.