Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles

Care of Wooden Floors

Five words from the blurb: flat, perfection, alone, care, farcical

Oskar lives with two cats in an immaculate flat in Eastern Europe. When forced to go to America to sort out his divorce he leaves his flat in the care of an old university friend. Unfortunately his friend doesn’t have the same high standards of cleanliness and is stressed by trying to maintain the beautifully polished surfaces. He does his best, but small marks become giant stains when he tries to clean them. Everything goes from bad to worse and the story becomes farcical, with increasingly ridiculous situations occurring.

This book is very entertaining and you can look at this now if you are even remotely interested in cleaning and polishing floors! I think everyone can relate to the responsibility of looking after something that doesn’t belong to them and the guilt that results from damaging it.

The comedy in this book is quite dark and often revolves around pain. The violence isn’t graphic, it is more slapstick in nature, but I sometimes felt guilty for laughing at the situations. It wouldn’t have been funny if it happened to me, but there was something about the imagery used that really tickled me.

Once my elbow and shoulder began to ache, I stopped scrubbing at the floor. I rinsed the sponge, squeezed it thoroughly, and wiped away the suds. Was the blemish still there? The floor was wet – it was hard to tell. Besides, I was beginning to feel that this blemish was like a flash-shadow left after a photograph has been taken, a blob imprinted on the back of my eyes and nowhere else. I thought of Edgar Allan Poe’s story ‘The Tell-tale Heart’, in which a murderer is driven mad by the imagined audible beating of the heart of his victim, concealed under the floorboards of his room. But I was no murderer, I thought, and it would take a lot more than a tiny mark on the floor to drive me insane.

I should probably warn cat lovers that they may find some scenes in this book distressing, but equally bad things happen to the humans so cats are not singled out for victimisation.

The writing isn’t perfect and there were a few too many similes and metaphors for my liking, but the comedy outweighed any minor problems with the text and I frequently found myself laughing out loud.

This book doesn’t have much depth, but it does raise some interesting issues about perfection. It is an entertaining way to spend a few hours, and I’ll be recommending it to a wide range of different people.



3 replies on “Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles”

I’ve just read this – a light book for train travel over Christmas. I picked up on your review after the link as a ‘memorable scene’. yes, the cat and the piano – that will live with me for a while too. Generally I enjoyed the book and agree with your review. It was a fun, quick read and I would read one of his again. I did like the central notion of one man’s obsession with his perfect wooden flooring – an unusual basis for a novel!

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