Monday, January 2, 2012

Vox by Nicholson Baker

   Abby and Jim are two complete strangers living on opposite sides of the country, yet they become intimately connected through a sex-chat hotline.  And while dirty pillow talk may have been their intentions, the conversation quickly evolves into more complicated subject matter - the intellectual aspects of sex, and the minutia of erotic call and response.  For Abby and Jim, the anonymity of the situation allows them to be more open and honest about sexual experiences and the details of pleasure-seeking than if they were actually in a relationship.  Vox is a very short book (just over 150 pages) and there are no breaks or chapters - just a transcript of their conversation.  And while this conversation is definitely x-rated at times, they also explore other aspects of desire, namely emotional and intellectual.

  Nicholson Baker is a master of bringing out the voyeur in us all.  His books have been quite controversial, but when sex is the subject matter there will always be an audience.  Vox is definitely a very graphic book and not for those who are squeamish or easily-offended, but I found it to be really fascinating and very funny at times.  Baker is incredibly perceptive when it comes to physical pleasure and the human body, but Vox doesn't feel like reading a "dirty" book with gratuitous sex scenes.  It reads like a conversation between two average people who are briefly able to discuss the taboo subject of sex without self-consciousness or insecurities.

  Well gosh I really started out this year with a bang, didn't I? Sorry, I just couldn't resist...Anyway, I feel I should also mention that (according to the Wikipedia page for this novel) Vox was rumored to have been a gift from Monica Lewinsky to President Clinton.  I hope that's true, but even if it's not, it should give you an idea of the level of controversy that surrounded this book when it was published in 1992.

Overall Rating: