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Care of Wooden Floors Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little A / New Harvest (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547953569
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547953564
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

"Thrilling, darkly comic disaster [is] lurking in every movement, wine bottle, and floorboard." —Daily Beast

"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

"This novel feels like a blend of Thomas Pynchon’s Entropy, John Cheever’s The Swimmer, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart, and any of Robert Coover’s stories that push the limits of realistic actions." —North American Review

Named one of The Telegraph’s “Amazing 15”

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize

Selected as "Best Fiction Debut of 2012," ShortList


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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Customer Reviews

The story was slow moving and the narrator's character was underdeveloped.
Amazon Customer
I do not like characters who make stupid decisions and thought it could only get worse so gave up.
C. Cole
I enjoyed the author's sense of humor, and the story was very entertaining.
Jacque L

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Lucy Gray on 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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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Vital Spark VINE VOICE on 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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C. Irish TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 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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