Nicholson Baker wasn’t kidding when he subtitled “House of Holes,” his new novel, “A Book of Raunch.” Indeed, it’s a bona fide filth-fest, so unrelentingly graphic that there’s not much I can quote from it in this review. At the same time, there’s an innocence to “House of Holes,” which is (if such a thing is possible) a dirty book without prurience, intended less to titillate than to amuse. In that sense, it’s a throwback, not only to “Vox” and “The Fermata,” Baker’s sex books of the 1990s, but also to an era — Kenneth Patchen’s “Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer” (1945) and Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg’s “Candy” (1958) can be read as antecedents — in which erotic literature was often written to subvert the bounds of the conventional, using humor. In an age of sexting and Internet porn, when one’s most perverse predilections are instantly accessible, that idea seems quaint, outmoded in its assurance that there is any such thing as moral propriety left to tweak. For all its lighthearted smuttiness, then, “House of Holes” comes with an inadvertent subtext: Has erotica become a nostalgic art?
more from David L. Ulin at the LA Times here.