A few years ago, Reuters picked up the following story: HOUSE OF HOLES AIMS TO PLUG CLIMATE CHANGE GAP. The article itself had nothing to do with Nicholson Baker’s new novel, House of Holes: A Book of Raunch. And yet the headline strikes us as strangely apropos.
Baker’s writings are all over the place—but wherever he strays, controversy seems to follow. Yet another smutty novel (Baker’s written a few) became a footnote to the whole sordid Lewinsky-Clinton affair. His provocative—some would say half-baked—history of the Second World War (Smoke) was totally savaged by most of the mainstream critics. And House of Holes, which comes out early next month, is sure to be remembered as this summer’s most sensational midlist title.
The book’s as dirty as anything Baker’s published to date, and more out there than anything he’d thought up previously. (To be fair, the author’s harshest critics would say that Smoke gives it a run for its money.) Alice in Wonderland is one obvious reference point. The Penthouse letters column is another. But Lewis Carroll was never so kinky (not on the page, at least), and Baker’s imagination easily outstrips that of your average Penthouse-letter writer. The results won’t be to everyone’s liking. (Cue the ensuing controversy.) But Baker’s fans will spot his Cheshire Cat grin peeking out from every page.
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