Tuesday, 13 August 2013

May 2013 - Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles

Opinions were split on Care of Wooden Floors but overall the group found it quirky and quite funny. There were some cringeworthy moments, like The Office, which made it a little embarrassing to read in places. The general consensus was that it gets a bit ridiculous near the end but most of us carried on reading to find out what on earth would happen next! One person didn’t find it at all funny, perhaps because she related to Oskar more, but liked how it was written. There aren’t any sympathetic characters and it didn’t seem like the two friends liked each other very much. Amongst the humour there were some dark moments too.
There were certain aspects of the plot that were convincing up until the cleaner dies, which seemed to be the turning point for most readers. When you’re alone by yourself in a strange country, you don’t know what to do with yourself and the little things that go wrong are exactly what happen to real people. Imagine you were drunk for a week. Some thought he might even have been hallucinating. Someone questioned as the narrator was a writer, why didn’t he do any writing. The book is a homage to procrastinating; even he couldn’t believe how much time he’d wasted not really doing anything.
Both the narrator and the city he is in remain un-named. Not knowing what language he doesn’t understand put you in the same mindset as the narrator. Though many readers wanted to know what city he was in. Picking out landmarks in a book can be part of the reading experience when recognisable. We did wonder what the cleaner actually thought of him.
Some thought the characters were unlikely but others knew people that could fit the roles. The narrator chooses to spend time with people who are completely different to him. Oskar is very picky and has a completely obsessive personality. In comparison the narrator is a complete slob and doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life. Although not intended as rude, the notes left behind came across that way however his reaction was very defensive.
Rather than a main theme it was smaller lines and events that people picked up on most. Walking home from the strip club in the puking rain and puking in the gutter, Oskar replacing the vodka in the freezer with pee which seemed so out of character, the moment where the floorboard were turned over. Will Wiles certainly knows how to write being drunk and hungover! We marvelled over the stupidity to get to the point where the cat went down the chute, a small mishap that snowballs into something major. And why did the cleaner bring back the cat?
We all felt the death of the cleaner was a step too far. We thought that scene could have been removed and the rest of the book would still have worked. It didn’t make sense why they were fighting or why he would hide the body. Was this just an addition to spice things up? There were no consequences for his actions and the whole thing made him seem like a sociopath. To him the marks on the carpet were more important than a death. The characters seem to swap at the end; the narrator has become obsessive and Oskar is understanding. Some felt let down by the revelation that is was all a test.
The writing style is quirky and gets funnier although a few people didn’t like the short sentences. Some thought it was atmospheric, especially descriptions of the storm. The description of the interior of the apartment was in-depth, reflecting the fact that Wiles is an architectural journalist. We felt it was just the right length, any longer and it would have been less enjoyable. Out of 15, only 3 wouldn’t read something else by him again.
Average Score: 6/10
Write up by Ellie

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