ROOM TEMPERATURE by Nicholson Baker


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More of the same sort of detailed numbness from the author of The Mezzanine (1988). Instead of a man thinking and shopping for shoelaces, however, now we get a man sitting in a rocker giving his baby a bottle and thinking. The setting is immediately appealing: a young father, Mike, in the rocker giving his baby, Bug, her bottle. The TLS is on his lap, open to an article on Coleridge's marginalia. Like a gun in the first act, will it fall off his lap by the end? That is about the extent of the drama. In chapters of fewer than ten pages each, Mike's mind wanders back through childhood and his relationship with Patty, his wife. Their bowel movements, nose-picking, and urinations are compared at length. Patty describes her bowel movement as ""a big job."" Their sexual activity is described as ""sexing."" Patty fantasizes Bug being born as looking like ""a pile of neatly folded laundry?"" Mike sees Bug at the moment of birth, ""a weary middle-aged commuter caught in a sudden downpour."" Mike teases out the possible writing of a history of the comma, while regretting that Bug will not know the pleasure of feeling the raised measurements on the sides of Skippy peanut-butter jars. More than you want to know about stuff you probably never wanted to know very much about in the first place.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1990
ISBN: 0802144918
Publisher: Grove Weidenfeld