Care of Wooden Floors
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Care of Wooden Floors

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  1,226 ratings  ·  287 reviews
A bold and brilliant debut from a darkly funny new voice. Oskar is a minimalist composer best known for a piece called Variations on Tram Timetables. He is married to a Californian art dealer named Laura and he lives with two cats, named after Russian composers, in an Eastern European city. But this book isn't really about Oskar. Oskar is in Los Angeles, having his marriag...more
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published February 2nd 2012 by Harper Press
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Petra SockieX
This is the house that the finiky, persnickety Oskar built
These are the two cats that Oskar loves obsessively
This is the wooden floor that Oskar is OCD about
This is the confetti of the endless, detailed, anally-retentive, neat-freak notes that Oskar has left simply everywhere.

But Oskar is not there. He is in the US getting divorced.

A friend, not a close friend, is looking after this model apartment because it's a free place to stay whilst he tries to recharge his creative energies.

He's not a nea...more
Aug 03, 2013 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: humour
Bizarre and periodically funny novel about how things can go spectacularly wrong from small beginnings. Set in a nameless city in Eastern Rurope. Oskar is an obssessively clean, tidy and neat composer who is going over to LA to get divorced from his wife. he asks an old university friend (who he hasn't seen for some years) to look after his flat. It is a bright, shiny minimalist flat. There is an expensive piano, expensive books, a shiny kitchen, an expensive leather sofa and most of all a massi...more

This book is hilarious! Some of Wiles’s humor dips into the slapstick but more in the sense of P.G. Wodehouse rather than the Three Stooges. “Care of Wooden Floors” is subtle, plot driven, and cleverly worded. There was one gag however, that was anything but funny. It was obvious and cruel and used merely for shock value. It doesn’t ruin the entire book but threatens to do so. Maybe I’m being too American.

The protagonist writes government pamphlets explaining such things as when and where...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Will Wiles' debut novel finds our unnamed narrator arriving in an unnamed Eastern European city to house-sit for his friend Oskar, a talented composer and serious neat freak whom the narrator befriended - or was befriended by - during their days at university in England. Oskar has left for Los Angeles and divorce proceedings started by his American wife, Laura. His flat is ultra-modern, minimalist, aesthetically cold, and expensively renovated; in particular, Oskar is obsessed with the floors. H...more
James Smythe
Will Wiles, the author of Care of Wooden Floors, is the deputy-editor of Icon magazine. When I first read that the novel was being published, that fact led me toward assumptions: that it would be filled with beautiful objects and architecture, and descriptions of said items, and that these descriptions would form the bulk of the novel. What I didn’t necessarily expect was a character as incredibly strong as Oskar. And here’s the kicker: Oskar is only in the novel as a present character for a han...more
I was laughing out loud during the last quarter of this book; it was a fun read, and there was the bonus of it being well written too. The stylish writing saved the mid third from being mired by a bit of boggy floundering; the debauched night on the town may have been mostly irrelevant but it provided funny descriptions of a hangover. ("I may have groaned. My body was made from wads of soggy material inexpertly lashed together with stringy sinews. The wads composed of the worst stuff possible –...more
Derby Jones
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sophie Gonzales
Urgh. Okay, I'll admit – I haven't finished this book. It's written very well and in a pretty unique way, but I just couldn't get into it. Basically, the whole story is about a person who goes to look after his friend Oskar's flat, which is in a foreign Eastern European country, and Oskar is excessively particular about every detail of its upkeep. But things start to go horribly wrong; starting from the moment when this friend manages to leave an unsightly mark on the wooden floor, which Oskar i...more
Feb 17, 2013 Mag rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mag by: group read
Shelves: fiction
You may treat this book as a comedy you go and watch in the movie theater to relax and laugh. It’s light but it’s not all fluff, and as in all good comedies there are things there to learn about human nature. It’s about a young guy who is asked to house sit, or more accurately flat sit (the guy is English) for a friend who lives in some unnamed East European country. The friend has extremely high cleanliness and order standards bordering perfection in fact, and our narrator is finding it rather...more
Really a 4.5. I loved this book and laughed out loud through a great part of it. "But for the floors, and the sofa, and the porn, and the dead, and the missing, the flat was restored to order." Not to mention the cats and the "awkward" cleaner/concierge who lives downstairs. There is a bit of a surprise ending, of which I will say no more. I haven't decided yet if it's great literature, but it is very well-written.

Recommended especially for Maria, Barbara, and Cynthia ( and possibly Sheryll;-)
What started out as a charming farce quickly deteriorated into the book equivalent of being trapped in a closed room with a teeth grinder. The drunken, unnamed main character was too dis-likable. He never took any responsibility for his actions and as one disaster after another piled up, the book lost the ability to believed. The ending was such a cop-out as well. This would have made a rather funny short story but as a novel it just doesn't work.
Maya Panika
I’ve rarely felt such antipathy to a protagonist! Intermittently funny at the start, as the tale wore on, certainly once the deaths began, I became increasingly sad and impatient with this fool of a character, this hapless, cowardly idiot. I warmed to him a little when he had the grace to shed tears after the first death – though were they tears of regret? Or just tears of anger and frustration. My over riding emotion throughout was ‘Call Oskar! Why doesn’t this idiot just get on the phone to hi...more
If you’d like to read about a sick, demented individual spiraling out of control faster than a Chevy Silverado headed for a concrete barrier, then you should read this novel. Or maybe you’re the perfectionist control freak who likes to play puppet master and then watch the puppets burn. That’s taken care of in this novel as well.

Either way, this book slips from normal to all-the-way crazy over a period of eight days. Eight long, grueling days filled with shopping and spilled wine and broken glas...more
Hmm. I wanted to like this. But I skimmed far too much of it.

The sense of place is well done; Wiles depicts an unnamed Eastern European city very well, including all the discomforts and alienation and uncomfortable sense of smugness that tends to happen to Westerners when alone in a city that feels slightly familiar yet so foreign.

Unfortunately, the protagonist doesn't go out all that much. He's making silly decisions whilst apartment-sitting for a perfectionist friend, like allowing cats onto a...more
Debut novelist Wiles has managed to pull off a neat trick -- a thriller in which the antagonist is a wooden floor. The protagnoist is a nameless freelance writer living a drab London life, cranking out pamphlets about recycling for local councils. When his old college dormmate Oskar asks him to flatsit for him in an unnamed Eastern European city, he leaps at the opportunity to do some proper, distraction-free writing. Oskar is a fastidious fussbudget, so it comes as little surprise when the writ...more
As I read this book my opinion changed so many times it was distracting. The premise - housesitting for a compulsive neat freak, intrigued me. I am one who is never comfortable staying in other people's homes as I am always fearful of doing damage. In this book the main character is asked, by an old college friend, to house and cat sit his meticulously renovated apt. while he is away. What ensues is somewhat predictable, often annoyingly so, a bit funny, and then; ridiculous. The plot of the nov...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather Noble
This book has many adjectives, similes, metaphors, personifications and probably many other literary devices or conceits I have failed to notice or recognise. (Check Oxford Dictionary of literary terms). It's short on plot and characterisation and yet it is strangely and irritatingly compelling and tense.
The first person self confessed chaotic narrator is unnamed, as is the East European city in which he agrees to look after the pristine flat of a perfectionist university friend who has flown to...more
Cyn (RaeWhit)
I was on page 110 and was regretting having committed myself to read this book (done when I'd gone beyond my page 50 fail-safe point). Gradually, though, this book engaged me, to the point that I thought about it obsessively until I finished it. An unnamed protagonist, flat-sitting for a laced-up-tight, slightly OCD friend, in an unnamed Eastern European city. From the 'reminder' notes left to caution the flat-sitter, along with his rather blasé disregard of them, the flat takes on a personality...more
When is the last time you read a book where you couldn't predict the plot? Will Wiles' debut novel, Care of Wooden Floors is quirky and immensely enjoyable. Maybe I am just neurotic, but Wiles' neurotic self-as-own-worst-enemy semi-loser who is guesting in his obsessive Eastern European friend Oskar's flat, really spoke to me. I, too, have had those moments where I think, "It can't get any worse," and then it does. Don't get me wrong; this is not a depressing book, but a hilarious one with a gre...more
'Care of Wooden Floors' was an enjoyable read with a clear story arc, although much of its appeal lay in a certain 'car crash' quality to the tale. The plot starts slowly, but as the pace picks up the main character's situation plummets, careering wildly around corners with each successive plot twist. Schadenfreude is a word which very much comes to mind here - much of my pleasure in the novel was found in Wiles' darkly comic humour and I lost count of the number of times I found myself chucklin...more
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...more
Diane Dickson
I can't decide what this was, was it dark comedy - yes, was it farce, well almost certainly there were farcical events. It was more though than that. The prose was outstanding, really the best use of language that I have come across in a long time. The descriptive passages were wonderful, I could hear, smell and see the locations and the other scents and aromas!! The story made me cringe, groan, laugh occasionally but not a comfortable belly laugh more a snicker behind my hand with just a little...more
Barbara Backus
"A British copywriter house-sits at his composer friend Oskar’s ultra-modern apartment in a glum Eastern European city. The instructions are simple: Feed the cats, don’t touch the piano, and make sure nothing damages the priceless wooden floors. Content for the first time in ages, he accidentally spills some wine. The apartment and the narrator’s sanity gradually fall apart in this unusual and satisfying novel."

One reviewer has called this debut novel "nightmarish." I found it quirky, original,...more
Lars Kenseth
This was one of the best books I've read in a while. I have a lot of respect for books that live In a small world, but still find a way to be entertaining. This is as small as it gets. About an Englishman who is invited to some unnamed post soviet eastern bloc city to apartment sit for his anal retentive college friend, and that apartment is where we spend most of the book. But i was totally in. The apartment is a pristine testament to organization and success that makes the house sitter feel li...more
Full Stop
Jun 11, 2014 Full Stop added it
Shelves: fall-2012

Review by Meghan Farnsworth

In Islam, the pursuit towards perfection is perceived as a sin. The process implies heresy, as though one were striving to be a part of the divine. That is why Islamic artwork contains deliberate imperfections: in order to convey a gesture of humility. Consequently, this idea holds true for people who attempt to better themselves through a career or an art form. By maintaining a sense of humility, one creates a type of freedom wh...more
Wayne Klick
No, this isn't a how-to book. This is a novel. We have one character and one setting. There are no spaceships, spies, or murders. There is a death or two but they're not important. Our one character is an unnamed apartment-sitter from London who has been summoned to an unnamed city in eastern Europe. The setting is (you guessed it) the apartment he is sitting. The entire story is told in this man's head. There is only one scene involving another human being for any distance of pages. Oh, and our...more
Susan Kaplan
Mar 27, 2014 Susan Kaplan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who can stick with dense, complex, weird stories
Recommended to Susan by: Got it free from as part of Kindle prime subscription
Shelves: fiction
Care of Wooden Floors is simultaneously a hilarious romp and a serious commentary on human nature. The unnamed narrator, from London, is asked by his friend Oskar, who lives in an unnamed country that appears to be part of the former Soviet Union, to take care of his flat while he travels to Los Angeles to get divorced from his wife. The narrator, known only as "My old friend," in numerous notes left by Oskar about the care and feeding of his flat, his cats, and his possessions, is a mediocre wr...more
Jacqui Dent
I was both delighted and terribly frustrated by this book. It is precisely and beautifully written and full of very perceptive and amusing observations and descriptions. But I found the plot absolutely infuriating and finally reached a point where I could not go on, close as I was to the end, any interest in finding out what was to come died in me and I knew that Will Wiles and I were through.
This is one of the strangest novels I've read. As a former housesitter, the strangeness and comedy involved with living in and caring for another person's space resonated with me (and reminded me how thrilled I am I don't really housesit any longer).

Wiles' debut novel gave me chills, relief, and incredible discomfort all at once. It even made me have a housesitting nightmare last night. And despite all of that, I couldn't seem to get enough of it. Bravo.
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