Nicholson Baker writes in 360-degree Sensurround--his descriptions of the seemingly banal awakening the most jaded of senses into recognition, admiration, and amusement. In Room Temperature,
his self-deprecating, endlessly curious narrator is at home giving his baby girl a bottle and allowing his mind to wander. Uppermost in his thoughts are his wife and daughter, but there is also that obsession with commas and some concern with tiny taboos like nose-picking and stealing change from his parents. Truth-telling is the operative mode; at one point he tries to get his wife to explain a doodle by quoting a review of early Yeats: "Always true is always new." Room Temperature
is a rare novel of domestic pleasure and stability, with a twist. "Was there ever a limit between us? Would disgust ever outweigh love?" Baker's alter ego asks, and seems determined to find out.
From Publishers Weekly
Baker's first novel, The Mezzanine , was hailed for its minimalist conceit--the story of a lunch-hour sortie to buy shoelaces--and its exhaustive cataloging of objects encountered and thoughts entertained. For readers impressed with the precision of Baker's descriptive powers but chilled by its clinical rigor, this second novel will deliver a welcome warmth. Occasioned by a 20-minute bottle-feeding of his infant daughter "Bug," narrator Michael Beal, a young house-hus- band, transforms the sounds and textures of an autumn afternoon into an absorbed--and absorbing--reverie: "The Bug's nostril had the innocent perfection of a cheerio a tiny dry clean salty ring, with the odd but functional smallness . . . of the smooth rim around the pistil of the brass pump head that you fitted over a tire's nipple to inflate it." In a refreshing bit of candor, the narrator baldly states the author's goals: "I certainly believed, rocking my daughter on this Wednesday afternoon, that with a little concentration one's whole life could be reconstructed." In a classic pairing of form and content, meditations on the images of infancy develop into mature, if somewhat ingenuous, reflections on the transit to adulthood. This is a small masterpiece by an extraordinarily gifted young writer.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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