Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vox, 22/100

Vox is a 1992 novella by Nicholson Baker. The 1992 is important, since it's about 2 people chatting over an adult hotline. The entire book is a transcript of their conversation. I love how the book seems like such a relic of its publication date. A phone conversation? 1992.

FUN FACT: Monica Lewinsky gave a copy of this book to Bill Clinton as a gift. How 1998!

But at the same time it reminded me of the internet. Or, at least the internet circa 1996-2004 or so. Back when it was somewhat anonymous. Back in the days of AOL chat rooms, message boards, and that poorly animated dancing baby. I miss the internet from the movie You've Got Mail. Yes, the Nora Ephron cheeser. It's embarassing how much I love that movie. Don't judge me.

In Vox the two characters, protected by anonymity, allow themselves to be completely open with one another. Sharing their biggest secrets, most embarrassing and painful experiences, their sincerest wants and fantasies.

And yes, they're on an adult hotline, so the focus of most of the conversation It's pegged as an erotic novel, although I don't really consider it as such. But to-may-to, to-mah-to.

Short novel without many quotables, but here's a paragraph I thought was beautiful.

That was my year of heavy stereo use. Unlike you I didn't have a big crush on anyone at the time. I think it was more that I had a crush on the tuner itself, frankly. I used to imagine that the megahertz markings were the skyline of a city at night. The FM markings were all the buildings, and the AM markings were their reflection in water...And the little moving indicator on our stereo was lit with a yellow light, and I knew where all the stations were on the dial, and I'd spin the knob and the yellow indicator would glide up and down the radio cityscape like a cab up and down some big central boulevard and each station was an intersection, in a neighborhood with a different ethnic mix, and if the red sign came on saying STEREO I might idle there for a while, or the cabbie might run the light, passing the whole thing by as it exploded and disappeared behind me. And sometimes I'd thumb the dial very slowly, sort of like I was palming a steering wheel, and move up, move up, in the silence of the muted stretches, and then suddenly I'd pierce the rind of a station and there would be this crackling hopped-up luridly colored version of a song that sounded for a second much better than I knew the song really was, like that moment in solar eclipses when the whole corona is visible, and then you slide down into the fertile valley of the station itself, and it spreads out beneath you, in stereo, with a whole range of middle and misty distances.

Until you read it a second time and you go OH, OH WAIT THERE'S SOME INNUENDO THERE.

Still beautiful though.

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