VOX by Nicholson Baker

Found this book while I was in Birmingham and picked it because it was pink and about sex somehow. I didn’t really get the title–actually I just looked it up after reading it and learned that vox has to do with voice, so now I get it.

Anyway, this book is a lot like a play. It’s about two people on a sex hotline, and it’s just their dialogue back and forth to each other with the occasional “he said” or “she said.” Their words tell us everything we know–what they’re wearing or what they look like. There is no big wise narrator telling us the truth or what they’re thinking. Because that’s not the point. The point is that they’re opened up to each other. Wide open, telling ultra secret secrets. Spilling super personal stories. Stuff about getting painted and penetrated or masterbating along with someone in person.

The surprising thing to both of them is how well they connect. They tell relevant, smart stories that are not all sexed up. Like they are about sex but it’s still clever and thoughtful. Not, like the girl says, just a guy asking what’s your measurements. They know each other in certain way at the end of the call. All that leads up to their simultaneous climax is the real fun. The circus fantasy or these long arms someone had. Trying to get a photocopy of his dick or touching herself in the shower in college. It’s about telling stories. That that is sexual. That is the tension. Unearthing who a person is and staying on the line to keep up the magic.

Best line is when the girl is talking about how some songs fade out at the end, specifically the song “Ain’t Nobody,” and is like “and even thought the singer is singing just as loud as ever, in fact she’s really pouring out now, she’s fighting to be heard, it’s as if you are hearing the inevitable waning of popularity of that hit, it’s slippage down the charts, and the twilight of the career of the singer, despite all the beautiful subtle things she’s able to do with a plain old dumb bunch of notes, and even as she goes for one last high note, full of daring and hope and passionateness and everything worthwhile, she’s lost, she’s sinking down” (Baker 24).

-Rachel Wagner

Click here for all the romantic books I have for sale at Ten Dollar Books.

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