The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 17 February 1998

Room Temperature

by Nicholson Baker

Baker is masterful at creating literature out of the cultural background noise Americans generate. In this "novel", the protagonist rocks his six-month-old baby to sleep while musing on topics ranging from nose-picking to writing a symphony based on the sound of an opening peanut butter jar. There is no plot as such, with the "action" taking place over half an hour as the child falls to sleep. Baker, however, adds excitement to his otherwise mundane topics with his exquisite language. The book is entertaining in its many artful shocks of recognition. He developed these methods in the superior books, The Mezzanine and Vox. Yet, one has to wonder whether these cultural asides will age well over time. In this book, the author notes that some of his indulgences will seem already outdated, so get out and read it soon.

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