Thursday, February 14, 2013
Care of Wooden Floors; Will Wiles
Title: Care of Wooden Floors
Author: Will WIles
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: New Harvest
Source: free/amazon prime
Setting: Unnamed European Country
Date Completed: February - 2013
In Care of Wooden Floors, an unnamed narrator from London agrees to house sit for Oskar, his former college friend, while he flies back to the US to finalize his divorce from his American wife. Oskar makes, what seems to be, some reasonable requests of his friend: feed his (2) cats: Shossy and Stravvy, no cats on the sofa, don't touch the piano, let the housekeeper in once a week and, make sure nothing damages his beautiful "wooden floors". Oskar seems a bit obsessive and does not seem totally confident about the narrator's ability to do as he's been asked. Oskar leaves random notes around the apartment reminding his friend where the cleaning supplies are and what he expects of him. It's almost as if he expects a mishap to occur here and there.
What starts out as a nice change of pace for the narrator soon develops into an amusing, and at times horrific week of house sitting. It begins when a red wine spill goes unnoticed until it is too late, causing a big red blotch to mar Oskar's pristine wooden floors. This incident with the floor causes the narrator to obsess about the stain and seek a way to fix it or make it less noticeable. If this doesn't cause enough stress for the house sitter, things get even more complicated when he breaks another one of Oskar's rules about not touching the piano, which triggers another incident, this time with one of the cats.
"Is everything OK in the apartment?" [ My eye strayed to the cats on the sofa and the stain on the floor. The stain was actually hidden from me by the coffee table, but I felt I could still see it; a flash burn on my retina, always in center view . You tried to look at it, when it swam away!]
This story starts off slow and then suddenly the plot builds with one calamity to the next. There is a fair share of suspense in this story, but mostly, I found myself laughing about the measures the narrator takes to cover up his tracks. The incident with the piano and the cat was funny to me, but maybe not all animal lovers will feel the same. I had to keep telling myself "it's just a work of fiction".
Care of Wooden Floors, was just the type of book I needed -- very fun, often wacky -- try it. Readers who like dark humor will be the best candidates for this debut novel.