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Care of Wooden Floors : A Novel
by Will Wiles

Overview -

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.  Read more...


 
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More About Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles
 
 
 
Overview

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.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780547953564
  • ISBN-10: 0547953569
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publish Date: October 2012
  • Page Count: 295


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Humorous

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2012-08-13
  • Reviewer: Staff

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. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Oct. 9)

 
BookPage Reviews

Oaky wine leads to chaos

It turns out a novel about trying to keep a floor clean can be edge-of-your-seat compelling. Who knew? Journalist Will Wiles’ fiction debut, Care of Wooden Floors, takes this unlikely plot and twists it into a tight, lovely, unique work full of heart as well as darkness.

An unnamed narrator agrees to housesit for his old college friend, Oskar, in a dreary, unidentified Eastern European city. He doesn’t know how long the gig will last, and he hopes the stay in Oskar’s meticulously kept environs will get his writing juices flowing. It’s deceptively easy: care for the cats, use a coaster and above all else, don’t damage the floors. But this seemingly painless job goes terribly, terribly wrong.

Terribly, hilariously wrong. A wine stain is only the beginning, and the slapstick moments, tinged with threat, are nimbly choreographed. What’s truly wonderful, though, is the narrator’s imperfection—his vulnerability, humanity. As one mistake leads to another, Oskar’s demanding notes multiply throughout the flat, and our narrator’s struggle to right his growing disaster brings our own faults uncomfortably, somehow pleasingly, right up close. And while the story chronicles one man’s problems, it ably takes a larger view, pitting control against chaos and examining the madness that the quest for perfection can bring.

The book suffers a little from an oddly stunted ending. But the ride is such a tense pleasure, it doesn’t even matter. Wiles is a strong new voice. Enjoy this one with a glass of wine—if you dare.

 
BAM Customer Reviews

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