Care of Wooden Floors
By Will Wiles
(New Harvest, Hardcover, 9780547953564, 295pp.)
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
List Price: $24.00*
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A witty debut novel about a housesitting gig gone terribly, hilariously wrong.
A British copywriter stays for a week at his composer friend Oskar's elegant, ultramodern apartment in a glum Eastern European city. The instructions are simple: feed the cats, don t touch the piano, and make sure nothing harms the priceless wooden floors. Content for the first time in ages, he accidentally spills some wine. Over the course of a week, both the apartment and the narrator's sanity fall apart in this original and weirdly addictive ("Daily Mail") novel.
As the situation in and out of the sleek apartment spirals out of control, more of Oskar's notes appear, taking on an insistent even sinister tone. "Care of Wooden Floors" is a must-read for anyone who's ever bungled a housesitting gig, or felt inferior to a perfectionist friend that is to say, all of us.
“This novel has everything I look for: Line by line the sentences are a pleasure, page by page the story enthralls, and as a whole, the novel is expertly constructed, each precisely cut plank snapping perfectly into place. Clever, funny, creepy, atmospheric, and very entertaining. I realize that's a lot of adjectives, but read the book and you’ll see.”— Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
“Funny, beguiling, and quietly profound . . . a wonderfully well-crafted debut.” —Times Literary Supplement
"Guffaw-out-loud moments…married to the horrified recognition that provokes empathy. A very funny novel provoking schadenfreude and belly laughs." —The Independent
“Highly idiosyncratic, well-written, with a vivid sense of place–and weirdly compelling.” –Michael Frayn, author of Skios and Headlong
“Fawlty Towers crossed with Freud.” — Daily Telegraph
“A nicely turned satire on the notion that the path to spiritual contentment lies in a pristine set of polished wooden floorboards... CARE OF WOODEN FLOORS indicates that Wiles has an eye for beauty, but an even more impressive eye for ugliness. It's a novel full of impeccably stylish writing.” –Guardian
“This is a terrific first novel, written with a very engaging deadpan wit, and an understated sense of the absurd.” –The Times
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize
Selected as “Best Fiction Debut of 2012,” ShortList
“This darkly humorous novel from U.K. journalist Wiles involves a nameless protagonist whose eight days of house-sitting turn out to be a lot more hassle than he bargained for. A freelance copywriter in London does his old university friend, Oskar, now a classical musician, a big favor by staying in his ‘nice flat’ located in an unspecified and dour Slavic city. Oskar is a ‘borderline obsessive-compulsive’ who leaves very specific instructions on a number of notes posted throughout the flat, including not only the care of cats Shossy and Stravvy, but, of greater importance, that of the expensive French oak floors. Oskar, in L.A. to deal with divorcing his wife, intends to return soon to his ‘island of perfection.’ Unfortunately, the befuddled protagonist is a hapless caretaker; he lets one of Oskar’s cats die (via piano lid) and, perhaps worse, he spills red wine on the floor. ‘Batface,’ the flat’s bellicose cleaning lady, is no help rescuing the precious floorboard. The narrator is pleased to find that Oskar has a ‘human’ side when he uncovers his hidden porn stash, but the maintenance of the wooden floors soon takes a horrid turn. A strikingly original debut.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review; a “Best New Book of the Week”)
“Care of Wooden Floors is a charming and engrossing story…This is Will Wiles’ first novel, but it's executed with [the] skill and craftsmanship of a veteran novelist. The prose is clean and elegant, the story tightly focused, the humor and the realism in careful balance.”
—The Toronto Star
“If you are a fan of Kafka, you should enjoy this novel, which is reminiscent of The Metamorphosis.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Care of Wooden Floors turns the placid act of house-sitting into one man’s existential nightmare.” — New York Times
“A tight, lovely, unique work full of heart as well as darkness…Wiles is a strong new voice. Enjoy this one with a glass of wine—if you dare.” —Bookpage