Vox by Nicholson Baker : A Book Review

Keep up with the Joneses that the fastest and the most convenient medium of making new friends  is using  Messenger , IG, Twitter, Blued, and all that jazz.  All you need is a smartphone in which you can download the apps since free or paid data connection is accessible to everyone. In light of these modern media of social communication, straitlaced , Victorian , or blue nosed  you may sound , deny it or not, you must be aware of the grim reality that people who find sexual thoughts and habits natural in their lives  can also now  easily pour out their  suppressed and restricted desires  through these backdoor outlets. This way of meeting new people to find someone to be in relationship with appears to be the modern way of ‘ sexual’ courtship. Back in my university, text messaging and ‘telebabad’, a Filipino nomenclature for having a long conversation over the phone, were the quite common things to do.

Vox is a short erotic novel about the two opposite sexes knowing each other for the first time through the telephone, talking about their sexual experiences and fantasies. In fact, this was published in 1992, and there is no question why the setting of getting along with each other is through the phone since “telebabad” was for all the rage.

The novel is loaded with   steamy sexual descriptions. Every page is sexually page-turning. The wind of your imagination would drift out somewhere in the erotic world. You might prudishly cringe at every bizarrely sexual anecdote the characters share with each other. I was like reading a sex magazine article and about to storm out of my room toward the relieving room. ( But I didn’t, of course! ) However, the ending is so tempting that I could throw it aside and abundantly squeeze out the seminal scenes that had still been lingering on in my mind. ( laughs)  But I swear! I really brushed off that green stuff you might be playing now. That ending is not that as erogenous and pornographic  as the other scenes I have internally devoured  from the other pulp books, but that is quite simply beautifully written. I won’t forget that!

Warning: Young readers should never lay a finger on it. Otherwise, their ignorant and innocent mind would be polluted. That’s why I stashed it underneath the other books I consider worth reading to keep them out of genius children’s reach. (laughs) Well, do not get me wrong. I am not that prudish either; let the children explore the world themselves.   Besides, it should have been expurgated, but I doubt because it would have been boiled to a thinner version as the  inside-the-box mind of the religious people inculcated in superannuated and ultraconservative teachings beyond logical and scientific understanding.

As far as I have learned, Nicholson Baker’s works are more on erotica. I’m not sure of why he is so monomaniac about such genre.  So, it has still been a question to me about the essence of this book. What is his real intention? Did he just want to write something the sexually preoccupied ( SPO ) would patronize, and he would earn a lot of money at the same time? In fact, I have been trying to trace some quotable lines which could be the brainchild of his hidden motive, but after all, it could be a read for entertainment value. Apparently, it is all about the bird and the bees. Nevertheless, what I realized was that the desire to express one’s sexual desire. I could say that sex is an art. It is not a tabooing matter.

Before reading it, I didn’t have the foggiest idea of what the title Vox means. When I googled  the word, there are many meanings which boggled but aroused my curiosity. It means voices or vocal or a telephone device.  It is also an American news and opinion website established in 2014, younger than the book because it was published in 1992.  When I came to understand the concept of the story, the stress on the capital X  turns out to  indicate that it is an X-rated novel.

Despite the meaning of the title is vocals or voice, I am still in a state of bewilderment about its connection to the concept of the story. Nevertheless, if I interpret it in a sexual context, I can understand that in order for someone hyper-sexualized to be sexually excited, he/ she has to hear the voice of the person he /she talks to over the phone, especially if both of them are sexually reciprocal. Well, I don’t opine that both characters are technically sick. They are just literally flirts.

While putting it aside for a while, abstinently preoccupied with the sex scenes playing in me, I could not stand nor perch still on my chair because all I wanted to do is to  turn to someone I wanted to share it with,someone I miss talking with about  such a taboo topic. Hahaha I miss you Baifern! 🙂

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

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Where the Boys Are: Urban Gay Erotica by Richard Labonté (Editor) and Erastes ( Author): A Book Review

Warning: This review contains unpleasant  or offensive languages which may not be suitable for readers borne upon with   “ a-la -madre-and -padre attitude” . In short, “hypocrisy ”.  It requires   “parental guidance of our rational thinking”. In short, open your eyes , heart, and mind.

BOYS

The last erotica I  have read  so far , aside  from  the  X-rated  articles in magazines and newspapers,  is Ladlad : An Anthology  of Philippine Gay Writing  by Danton Remoto and J. Neil  C. Garcia . (Yes, I read such genre.  I am mentally horny. It  is  a natural  feeling among  confederated readers like me. Do not be priggish and prudish. ( laughs ) ) Both critically acclaimed Filipino writers   depicted the life of   queers in the Philippines.  So, the book is   audaciously steeped in homosexual experiences of the open and closet gays and became a best-seller among   the LGBT community. Of course, sacerdotal readers made a scene by taking  a pot at it.

 Where the Boys Are by Richard Labonte bears complete resemblance to Ladlad. (By the way, Ladlad is a Filipino word which means “coming out”.) Unlike in Ladlad  which focuses on gays in general situation, it deals  primarily with gay experiences in  cities. In my own technical terms, “identity peregrination”. Most of the gay characters are searching their real selves.

Richard  Labonté compiled  14 short stories  of  the different  writers who may be  most of them belong to the same confederation. So let me say something on each of them. Kinda spoiler. ( wink! )

Live from  New York by Rachel Kramer Bussel  ( 4 stars )

 Its introduction blew my mind as did a prudish priest  and nun signing a cross.

“ I didn’t expect to get my cock sucked on my first night in New York City, but may be I should have…”

Dear me padre and madre ! A dirty prose it sounds , but  do not be prejudiced. Both man and woman do such thing too. As a matter of fact, because of this untoward incident, the main character found out in the city what persona he has been searching for.

 Unable to Hold Back by Kemble Scott ( 3 stars )

 Raphne , the  gay protagonist,  met  a man his friend monickered VACNE, stands for vagina and  acne.  As a matter of fact, Raphne did not know that he  is gay. He deluded himself into the fact  that he  is a straight guy. It just so happened that he met VACNE in a train.

 My Evil Twin  by Sam J. Miller ( 3 stars )

 “I’m not   leaving this city until I get  a blow job. “

 A story about Solomon and Simon. Solomon has the “evil twin”, so Simon , in a metaphorical way, will exorcise that evil out of his soul.

 One of the Guys by  Jameson Currier ( 4 stars )

 Jonathan, the open gay protagonist, finds  his life in orgies .

 Tiny Golden Kernel by Lee Houck ( 3 stars )

 It’s a question of Nurture vs. Nature.

 Taming the Trees by Jeff Mann ( 3 stars )

 If you are green-minded, you might interpret that the title could be phallic in nature. As a matter of fact, a middle-aged professor, single and gay, living in a small mountain town, longs to make love with the loggers, let alone his favorite Hollywood actors, whom he fantasizes in his jerking off.

 Drug Colors by Erastes ( 3 stars )

 Some closet gays end up in a small world  where they could find themselves openly rather than in a big world where there should be social acceptance. Poor them!

 Other Residences, Other Neighborhoods by Douglas A. Martin ( 4 stars )

 A story about a voyeuristic gay

 Juniper House by Alana Noel Voth ( 2 stars )

 A closet gay sharing his skeleton in the closet with an autistic child at an institution. What is the relevance, Alan ?

 Wild Night  by Simon Sheppard ( 4 stars )

 Have you ever been to a city of horny ghosts?

I won’t forget the threnody  at the ending  :

 “I know,  I know . The struggle for queer liberation comes down to much more than a furtive blow job in the dark. Of course . And times change. New HIV have brought some of us , like lecherous Lazaruses, up from the brink of the grave and back down  on our knees…”

Half-Life  by Dale Chase ( 4 stars )

 A man who has never told his wife that he likes a man more than a woman.

 The Bird and the Bees by Alpha Martial  ( 2 stars )

 In a nutshell, it is all about sex.

 God Hates Techno by Zeke Mangold ( 3 stars )

 Sex in a city is better than in a country side.

 Local Fame by Ted Cornwell ( 3 stars )

 A conflict faced by a gay: fame or love

So, all the stories above are all about gay.

The common perception of “sacerdotal critics “ when they  hear such erotica is that it deals with pornography, completely similar , as they put it,  to x-files between a man and woman. (See? There is no difference. Not only man and woman can do such thing. )That the only purpose is to intensify a reader sexually until he or she becomes mentally and physiologically corrupt. Ridiculous!

But , Holy Moses!  padres  and madres! This book   is more sensible  than the ones you  are always reading.

This  book, along with Ladlad , is an  eye-opener, not that it is erotic and raunchy , so  you end up finding it disgusting , horrendous according to what your religion inculcates in you ,  but a book  geared to educate you what it is like to be a gay  and notably to encourage  gays who are still hiding in their closets.

Another thing I liked in this book is how the stories are couched in  beautiful prose- something  I am envious of, I think ,better than Fifty Shades of Grey. So, in the end, the book is  not that suppressible as some classic gay novels I have read.

Recently, the US Supreme Court upheld is ruling that the right to marriage is now lawfully applicable to the same-sex. If the writers ‘stories above were  intended to raise awareness of the LGBT rights, after many years of hyping up, well,  their  efforts have paid off. This book is no longer revolting like the plague. Someday, everyone will be used to reading such gay genre as they become used to gay culture. Drink to it, Richard  Labonté! ^^

Rating: 4/ 5 stars