Cover image for Room temperature : a novel
Room temperature : a novel
Baker, Nicholson.
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First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grove Weidenfeld, 1990.
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In his second novel, Baker turns a young father's feeding-time reverie into a catalog of the minutiae of domestic love.

Author Notes

Nicholson Baker lives in Maine.

Nicholson Baker was born in New York City on January 7, 1957. He briefly attended the Eastman School of Music before receiving a B.A. in philosophy from Haverford College. He is the author of both fiction and nonfiction works including The Mezzanine (1988); Room Temperature (1990); Vox (1992); The Fermata (1994); The Everlasting Story of Nory (1998); Checkpoint (2004); and The Anthologist (2009). His nonfiction work, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 2001.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In his second novel, Baker casts a new father as the narrator, who whiles away an afternoon with his baby girl, Bug, on his lap. Sitting quietly with his daughter throughout the novel, Mike embarks on a whimsical, stream-of-consciousness journey, sharing his ruminations on the comma-like configuration of the nostril, the delicacy of human relationships, fragments of his own childhood, and the evolution of the peanut-butter jar. Nicholson's articulate writing style, capricious use of imagery, and meticulous attention to detail defy the need for any action in the novel, save the gentle rocking of Bug. The deceptively thin novel, packed with quaint meanderings, sticks to the palate like the peanut butter Mike describes so eloquently, to be savored long after the book is finished. --Ivy Burrowes

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This stunningly original novel is more like a prose poem than a work of conventional fiction. Rich in playful humor, and with an abundance of ingeniously observed detail, it describes a young father's inspired musings as he spends a quiet afternoon with his infant daughter. Baker has a poet's way of investing everyday objects and experiences with a magical, emblematic intensity (his loving description of the musical qualities of a glass peanut butter jar is truly memorable). The result is a deftly woven interplay between the narrator's childhood memories and his experience as a new parent and husband. At times, the disarming intimacy of the author's tone seems to border on the self-indulgent, but Baker is such an inventive stylist that this minor fault should be overlooked in the light of his impressive achievement. Highly recommended for all collections of fiction.-- Christine Stenstrom, New York Law Sch. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.