This can’t be called a failure, though. Apart from the sex and the fantasy, House of Holes never meant to have anything in common with The Fermata. The latter is a novel, one whose full-blooded narrator, Arno Strine, struggles with complex emotions and desires as he abuses his power over time. House of Holes is no novel. It announces its impure intentions right on the cover: This is raunch. The characters are cartoons, their exchanges—at once deadpan and overwrought—a spoof of porno movie dialogue and a foil for the dizzying absurdity of Baker’s sexual scenarios.
Structurally, the book is simple: A succession of men and women find their way, through various bizarre apertures—e.g., a laundromat dryer—to an anything-goes sexual Wonderland called the House of Holes. Like The Fermata, this smacks of science fiction. In the opening scene, a woman named Shandee is visiting a quarry with her Geology 101 class. There she finds a hand attached to a forearm, which signs its way into her handbag. She gives the arm, which is anything but dead, a notepad. The hand writes, “Please…feed me some mashed-up fish food in an electrolyte solution.” The arm “had a solar panel for energy.” We learn that it once belonged to a certain “Dave” . . .
Personally, I think “house of holes” is trying way too hard . . .