Book: Vox - Livre d'Or

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Book: Vox
Thursday, 03 July 2003 at 06:19 pm

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Author: Nicholson Baker

Details: (c) Nicholson Baker 1992; Pub Granta Books 1992; ISBN 0-14-014057-3

Verdict: Well written but in the end probably not my thing

Reasons for reading it: I approve in principle of text porn. Because I don't have any problem with stuff that is deliberately created for sexual enjoyment, and with text there aren't any issues of consent as there can be with visual porn. And besides, I like words. I massively agree with j4 on this subject.

The two erotic novels I've most often heard favourably described are Vox and The story of O; I was put off the latter because it's about S&M. So it was pretty obvious that at some point in my life I'd have to read Vox.

How it came into my hands: I picked it up in a second-hand bookshop in Edinburgh.

OK, this review is obviously going to be somewhat explicit. So if you're a child, or uncomfortable with reading about my reactions to erotic writing, then don't follow this link. Duh.

The concept of a novella based on a phone sex conversation is a clever one. Because clearly it's a book about sexy words, there's a lot less disconnection between the words and what's being described than there would be in most other scenarios. And Vox is undoubtedly well done; it's good writing by any criteria. It doesn't exactly have a plot, as such, but it certainly has a structure, rather than just being a random collection of sex scenes, and the two lovers are reasonably solid characters, not just anonymous lumps of flesh.

It does rely quite a lot on one particular trick, namely describing physical sensations (such as the texture of a particular fabric or similar) in almost excruciating detail, but there's a reasonable variety of scenarios at least. I was slightly irritated by the way it almost sanctimoniously claims the moral high ground; it keeps going on about the fact that, guess what, guys, it's possible for a man to be interested in sex and still respect women! Guess what, it's possible for women to be interested in sex without being slappers! Yes, I am put off by the kind of porn that degrades women, but I didn't need the continued emphasis on, look everybody, this is nice porn!

I think the main reason why I didn't get that much out of Vox was that I'm basically more interested in reading than... stuff I'm not actually going to describe explicitly in a public forum. So I kept being distracted from the physiological effects of reading this kind of stuff because I wanted to read. I got round this to an extent by reading in small doses rather than straight through (I've been reading Vox on and off for the best part of a month by now). Basically I think this is a 'problem' with me rather than a criticism of the book; I think the conclusion is that I probably prefer the odd sex scene in a wider context rather than an entire novella about sex.

Although as I've said the quality of writing is good, I think what I was hoping for was particular phrases that would be memorable as phrases. And Vox doesn't really have any of that.

Moooood: calmcalm
Tuuuuune: Tori Amos: China
Discussion: 2 contributions | Contribute something

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shreena: default
Date:July 5th, 2003 08:12 am (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 09:12 am (shreena's time)

Thanks for this! I've been wondering whether or not to read it. I've read "The story of O" as Amelia insisted and although it is very well written, it seemed to deteriorate towards the end. It started out as a very interesting exploration of S&M - almost philosophical in its insights in places - but just when you'd become convinced by the three main characters it suddenly turns into a cheap orgy.
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livredor: default
Date:July 5th, 2003 11:00 am (UTC)
4 hours after journal entry, 12:00 pm (livredor's time)
I think that however good The Story of O may be, there's no way I could stomach detailed descriptions of S&M. I can certainly lend you my copy of Vox if you like. (How comforting to be able to make that sort of offer with no danger of being misinterpreted!)
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