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Care of Wooden Floors [Kindle Edition]

Will Wiles
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)

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Burning Down George Orwell's House
Burning Down George Orwell's House
Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Robert Stone describes Burning Down George Orwell's House as a "… most enjoyable, a witty, original turn … one part black comedy and one part a meditation on modern life. It is well-written and truly original." Learn more about the author, Andrew Ervin

Book Description

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.



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

“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”)

Review

Shortlisted in the Specsavers National Book Award for “New Writer of the Year”

“If you are a fan of Kafka, you should enjoy this novel, which is reminiscent of The Metamorphosis.”—Kirkus Reviews

"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

“If, like me, you've ever thought that your productivity and creativity would explode if only you could get organized, let this be a (morbidly funny) wakeup call….A precisely written debut from one who knows the value of letting loose.” –Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"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

“One of the funniest and cleverest books of the year.….Care of Wooden Floors reads like a farce directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and the novel’s denouement will surprise even the most jaded readers.” —Washington Independent Review of Books

Fawlty Towers crossed with Freud.” — Daily Telegraph

"One of the most brilliant and entertaining literary debuts this year. The precision of his language and the care with which he delineates the characters and their environment is nothing less than astounding." -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“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

Named one of The Telegraph’s “Amazing 15”

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize

Selected as "Best Fiction Debut of 2012," ShortList


Product Details

  • File Size: 479 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385676395
  • Publisher: Little A (October 9, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008L4KNA4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,683 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Was Hooked! October 30, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I read the description of Care Of Wooden Floors, I knew I would enjoy it. Being a Kafka and Poe fan and loving a dark little tale, this book did not disappoint. The first third or so intriqued me and then the second half had me reading and reading to find out what ultimately happens at the end. I couldn't put it down, I tried, but I was obsessed. I had a horrible headache, was tired, and still I kept reading.

I enjoyed this book. It was like a voyeuristic view into someone's life when things go horribly wrong. Oskar is a musician and he is also a controlling, neat-freak. He has an old college friend, who remains nameless in this account, who he beckons to watch over his flat and cats while he takes a trip to LA. The country Oskar lives in seems to be an old Soviet stomping ground and the flat is simple but elegantly decorated. Its flooring is very expensive and expands the entire flat.

When Oskar's friend arrives, he hopes to get down to some serious creativity and have a rebirth with his writing. Oskar has always been an over achiever in life and his friend, quite the opposite. The friend who watches the flat comes from London, and his life is filled with his own imperfections and flaws. He has always been in a kind of awe that Oskar is his friend, being the perfect human that Oskar strives to be. The housesitter isn't the only one, Oskar seems to be the envy of others as well, because isn't success and perfection what people strive for?

Once at the flat, as he tries to settle in, the housesitter begins to find notes. They are in books, cd cases, in drawers and elsewhere. They instruct him as to where supplies are and what needs to be done and in general contain comments about what the friend may be doing inside the flat.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review 1 April 22, 2012
Format:Hardcover
A well-written and intriguing book. Both sad and laugh-out-loud funny. Lots of wonderful observations about life. Difficult to pigeon-hole into a genre - certainly amusing, but the central characters are so flawed that one feels a deepening sense of despair as the story progresses. Wiles manages to describe an unfolding series of disasters believably, without the whole descending into farce; but, events towards the end are so startling and unresolved that I lost empathy with the main character, which spoilt the book slightly for me. However, I would certainly recommend 'Care of Wooden Floors' as a good read.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Imperfections April 24, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This tells the story of our hero, who we never get to actually know the name of, who has been asked to look after his friends flat. He is a minimalist composer and has some sort of OCD perfectionist thing going on. He, Oskar, has to decamp to America to sort out his impending divorce and leaves his friend to `care' for his flat. That is he must look after the two cats and not damage to very expensive French oak floor that Oskar has had put down.
What follows is a catalogue of mini disasters that are blown out of all proportion as they are juxtaposed to the reaction Oskar will have when he finds out. Our hero likes a drink and it is fair to say that wine has a hand in many a misfortune. The ending is well thought out and took me by surprise. I actually really liked this book because of the writing style. Will Wiles can spin a yarn and has a style that is both intelligent and yet has that common touch that you need when being funny in prose. There is a lot of tension and schadenfreude around the antics that are taking place. It is the subject matter that I found a bit off putting, the title says it all, we are talking about a novel whose central theme is that taking care of a dysfunctional floor, for an obsessed nutter who writes symphonies about tram time tables.

That said it is an easy read, but the intense lack of action is sometimes padded by the overly long analysis of how our hero is feeling - it has a touch of the 19th Century Russian Novel about it in places. Still this is far from a dull read and I would happily read any future offerings from Mr Wiles.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When troubles come... September 17, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
One or two other characters make brief appearances, but basically there's just one character, our unnamed narrator who carries almost all of the weight in this novel. Naturally clumsy and careless, he is a Mr. Bean sort of person who inevitably damages or breaks things and makes the situation much worse when he tries to undo the damage.The experience of living by himself in his friend Oscar's pristine, perfect, ultra-modern apartment, after the squalor of his own basement flat, puts a great deal of strain on him, and it's not long before he has his first minor accident when he spills some red wine on Oscar's precious hardwood floor.

Various misadventures involving the floors, cats, wild dogs, more red wine ,vomit, and a crazy cleaning lady follow, each of which makes things worse and complicates our hapless hero's situation, until, by the end, events seem ridiculous and strain reader belief to the breaking point.

The book is well written, clever, and, especially at the beginning, very funny; however, I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it had been closer to two-hundred pages, instead of the three-hundred which it is.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Really it was like watching a train wreck
Really it was like watching a train wreck. It wasn't the greatest book, but I had to keep reading because I wanted to see what happened next.
Published 5 days ago by Cynthia L. Conger
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read. Didn't see how anyone could get ...
An interesting read. Didn't see how anyone could get in so much trouble.
Published 24 days ago by Connie Barks
3.0 out of 5 stars Odd Little Story
Odd little story. I enjoyed reading it. I would not be very comfortable recommending it, unless I knew the reader well.
Published 1 month ago by P. Hollingsworth
3.0 out of 5 stars A cruel joke.
I wanted to stop reading this book several times but I finished it. I found it to be stressful, and the ending made me angry. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Maureen
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody Brilliant!
I remained absorbed in the protagonist's inner dialogue throughout the entire book, and often chuckled out loud while reading. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amaly
3.0 out of 5 stars Not very creepy.
It was... Interesting. It wasn't as 'creepy' as I was expecting it to be, and I was somewhat let down by the lack of creepiness about it.
Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny yet stupid
I basically enjoyed the book and laughed out loud a few times but then it seemed to turn into something crazy. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mary Belmore
2.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunarely, somewhat irritating for me
From the initial description, I was expecting a sort of whimsical story about what can go wrong when someone is asked to house sit a perfect apartment. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Myron
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating
It nearly drove me crazy, o much so that I had to skim though some of the pages. Maybe I am not enough of an intellect to appreciate it. Well, so be it.
Published 3 months ago by Funny
5.0 out of 5 stars unique, quirky, well written
This was my second round reading this as it is fantastic. Honestly began to read to ensure I enjoyed it the first time and was not mistaken. Recommending to a friend. Read more
Published 4 months ago by BookLover
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More About the Author

Will Wiles is an architecture and design journalist. He was deputy editor of "Icon", a leading British design magazine, and his writing has appeared in "Cabinet", "New Statesman", and other publications. He is at work on his second novel.

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