Scribner, Hardcover, 9781451614220, 256pp.
Publication Date: August 2, 2011
Reminiscent of such novels as A Confederacy of Dunces and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Bed is a darkly funny and surprisingly tender debut novel about two brothers, one of whom refuses to leave his bed on his twenty-fifth birthday.
Mal Ede, a child of untamed manners and unbounded curiosity, is the eccentric eldest son of an otherwise typical middle-class family. But as the wonders of childhood fade into the responsibilities of adulthood, Mal’s spirits fade too. On his twenty-fifth birthday, disillusioned, Mal goes to bed—back to his childhood bed—and never emerges again.
Narrated by Mal’s shy, diligent younger brother, Bed details Mal’s subsequent extreme and increasingly grotesque transformation: immobility and a gargantuan appetite combine, over the course of two decades, to make him the fattest man in the world. Despite his seclusion and his refusal to explain his motivations, Mal’s condition earns him worldwide notoriety and a cult of followers convinced he is making an important statement about modern life. But Mal’s actions will also change the lives of his haunted parents, his brother and the woman they both love, Lou.
In Bed, David Whitehouse has put a magnifying glass on contemporary society. Hailed as a “momentous” (The Bookseller) debut in the UK, Bed is a mordantly funny and ultimately redemptive parable about mortality, obesity, celebrity, depression and the broken promises of adulthood. It is one of the most audacious debut novels in years.
“Outlandishly clever description… Ingenious one-liners… There’s no question that [David Whitehouse] is a writer to watch.”--Janet Maslin, New York Times
“A gorgeous, heartrending book, a book full of sentences so apt and well wrought, I sometimes had to read them twice.”--Henry Alford, San Francisco Chronicle
“Gorgeous writing… A deceptively effortless, haunting first novel.”--Boston Globe
“David Whitehouse has taken what might be a gimmicky hook in a lesser writer's hands--a romance triangulating around a bedridden media spectacle, the world's most obese man--and turned it, through lapidary prose, into a soulful meditation on a fraternal love as singular as it is universal.”--Teddy Wayne, author of Kapitoil
"Bed is a deftly-told wonder. Mr. Whitehouse's writing is accomplished, poetic, and deeply affecting."—Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned
“Staggering, inventive, and heartbreakingly beautiful.”—Esquire (UK)
“The best new novel I’ve read in ages.” —Sam Delaney, Guardian
"Sad and funny and pretty brilliant, too."--The Observer (UK)
"Masterful... [An] accomplished debut... [Whitehouse] maintains a tone of subtlety and grace, pulling a distinguished and accessible story out of a profoundly strange experience."--Publishers Weekly, starred review ("Pick of the Week")
“A totally extraordinary and original novel.”—Heat (UK)