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The trouble with reading 'House of Holes' [Video]

The very literary Nicholson Baker's new novel "House of Holes" is subtitled "A book of raunch." It's full of graphic language and sex scenes -- book critic David L. Ulin called it "a bona fide filth-fest," noting that it was hard to quote from it in his review. That's demonstrated in this entirely-safe-for-work video, in which staff from Baker's publisher, Simon & Schuster, read an excerpt.

Baker is also the author of the highly acclaimed novels "The Mezzanine" and "The Anthologist." His 2001 book "Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper" won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. So far, according to Simon & Schuster's website, it looks like he won't be going on book tour to read from "House of Holes." You can see why.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

RELATED:

Book review: "House of Holes" by Nicholson Baker

When your book gets a bad review, make lemonade [video]

An exercise in humiliation [video]

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Bristol Palin! Advice for the new author! (Fewer exclamation points!)

Bristolpalinsarahpalin2011

Some children lead extraordinary lives because of their great intellectual gifts or performance in the face of adversity. Helen Keller and Anne Frank come to mind. Other children linger in our collective consciousness because of their ability to leverage charisma. Shirley Temple, for example, or Michael Jackson (circa 1971).

But most of us spend our childhood in ordinary fashion, in the grip of our parents, attempting to obey, circumnavigate or flaunt their rules. Our adolescent accomplishments and failures are commonplace -- of interest, in most instances, only to our families and close friends.

And that’s a good thing. Childhood, after all, remains the time we attempt to forge identity. We flop around a lot and do silly and sometimes inappropriate things. If we are lucky, that behavior remains unnoticed by most of the world and forgiven by those closest to us.

Bristol Palin was a child whose behavior was noticed by much of the world. Her story is undoubtedly familiar to most: In 2008, at the age of 17, with her mother the GOP nominee for vice president, she was paraded in front of the nation, pregnant and unmarried but engaged to Levi Johnston, the baby’s father. Her son Tripp was born later that year. Bristol and Johnston broke up in 2009 and got back together, briefly, in 2010. Last fall, Bristol became a contestant on  “Dancing With the Stars” (and placed third with her partner, not bad for a girl who played basketball and football -- that’s right, football -- and ran track in her younger days). In December, she bought a home in Arizona.

Now Bristol has written a book “Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far,” with Nancy French. It’s not a particularly well-written book (too many exclamation points, among other sins) and the anecdotes within speak to a pretty ordinary childhood -- until the national spotlight/pregnancy thing.

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Do you want a XXX Jane Austen? Vote in our poll.

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Promotional materials for a new rewritten version of Jane Austen's much-loved novel "Pride and Prejudice" arrived today, proclaiming the arrival of a "raunchy new version of the Jane Austen classic!" But wait, there's more:

In this no-holds-barred account, men are not necessarily the only dominating sex. This time Mr. Bingley and his sister both have designs on Mr. Darcy’s manhood; Elizabeth’s dear friend Charlotte marries their family’s strange relation, discovering that her husband’s pious nature extends to worship of a different sort; and, in this telling, Lady Catherine de Bourgh takes the disciplining of those in the parish very seriously. As for the handsome Mr. Wickham, he’s wickeder than ever! And of course there’s plenty of good old-fashioned bodice ripping that shows no pride or prejudice and reveals hot hidden lusts in every scandalous page-turning chapter. This is the book Jane Austen would have written, if only she’d had the nerve!

But... would she? And if she didn't back when she was making those final edits in 1812, must she now?

 

Was it not enough that Austen has already endured the onslaught of zombie hordes? Now, poor "Pride and Prejudice" stands to face something possibly more destructive to the author's Austen-ness: plain old consummation.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: What if Mr. Bennet were looking at a dirty cartoon? He's not -- it's the 2005 version of "Pride and Prejudice." Credit: Alex Bailey / Focus Features

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