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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Currently reading - House of Holes by Nicholson Baker

What can I say? This book is hilarious! House of Holes stands to every horrible passage of hard-core pornographic writing that you've ever stumbled across much as Galaxy Quest stands to Star Trek. I.e. it's parodic, satirical, and very, very clever, and yet the satire is more loving than anything else. The sheer inventiveness and energy of Baker's language (not to mention the extremity of the book's weird scenarios) outdoes anything in the pornotopian narratives that it laughs at. Yet, really ... there's a sense that the author is ultimately laughing with the porn scribes as much as mocking them, that he's enjoying the chaotic confusion of raunch that results when he takes it all an increment, or two or three, further.

If there's a flaw, it's that the book goes on it a bit too long. With no real suspense building up, and a notably episodic structure, House of Holes keeps you reading only by a wish to keep enjoying the fun and laughter, not by an urge to turn pages and find out what's going to happen. Though I laughed out loud, I also found my attention wandering as the seemingly endless bangings, bonkings, and buggerings continued.

But never mind. Life is too short not to read Nicholson Baker's brilliant novels, and this one ought to go on top of your list. Give it as a gift, spread the word - your friends are going to love it, and you will as well.

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