There are many ways into the House of Holes, and they are all holes. Such is the logic that guides Nicholson Baker’s hilarious and extremely dirty “book of raunch,” “House of Holes,” and it’s more than enough. One woman enters this novel’s sex spa extraordinaire through an O-shape made by the fingers of a severed arm. Others fall through the hole in a golf green, or a peppermill. Somebody is funneled through a cocktail straw. Next thing, they all arrive at one of the loopier spots in literary memory — Plato’s Retreat by way of the Magic Mountain, or maybe the Oneida Community via Fantasy Island.
But really, the House of Holes is none of these places, because not even Mr. Roarke’s paradise boasts “pornsucker ships” (which fly over American cities and suck up the bad porn) or “crotchal transfers.”
Nor does it feature “masturboats” or “groanrooms” or a “squat line” organized for the pleasure of female guests. It’s doubtful that Hans Castorp, even at war, ever had to confront a “pornmonster,” a multi-endowed beast spawned from the toxic muck of a bad-porn dump site. If this sounds like a world dreamed up by a man with smut and silliness foremost on his mind, whose lewdness often saunters right into the realms of pure pornography, well, bingo. But since Baker is also one of the most consistently enticing writers of our time, you take the ride. 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.