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Care of Wooden Floors

3.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,722 Ratings  ·  345 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 (first published 2012)
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The Light Between Oceans by M.L. StedmanBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceThe Chemistry of Tears by Peter CareyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Man Booker Prize Eligible 2012
34th out of 151 books — 268 voters
The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin ExtenceThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceBefore I Go to Sleep by S.J. WatsonCare of Wooden Floors by Will WilesRandom Acts Of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann
The Desmond Elliott Prize
4th out of 92 books — 20 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it really liked it
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
Cynthia
Nov 02, 2012 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
JEEVES!

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
Paul
Aug 03, 2013 Paul rated it liked it
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
Cheryl
Dec 29, 2012 Cheryl rated it really liked it
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
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Aug 30, 2012 Shannon (Giraffe Days) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2012
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
Nov 11, 2011 James Smythe rated it it was amazing
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
Derby Jones
Dec 01, 2012 Derby Jones rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa
Feb 10, 2012 Melissa rated it did not like it
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.
Sophie Gonzales
Jan 31, 2012 Sophie Gonzales rated it it was ok
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
Tony
Oct 30, 2012 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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
Mag
Feb 17, 2013 Mag rated it liked it
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
Kristin
Sep 29, 2013 Kristin rated it it was ok
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
Merilee
Jan 16, 2013 Merilee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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;-)
Maya Panika
Dec 31, 2011 Maya Panika rated it liked it
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
Robert
Mar 09, 2013 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-deals
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
Ruthie
Dec 05, 2012 Ruthie rated it liked it
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
Ben
Apr 05, 2015 Ben rated it really liked it
Care of Wooden Floors
Will Wiles (Author)

Care of Wooden Floors is a book of many things. It is very well written, but wears its intelligence lightly. There is a central character that we never meet, but the reader learns all about him, through the narrator. Oskar owns a nice flat, and is best known for his minimalist meisterwerk Variations on Tram Timetables. Oskar is in America, slowly having his marriage destroyed by vulture like Lawyers, so he leaves the care of his expensive flat, and its wel
...more
Annette Olsen
Aug 24, 2015 Annette Olsen rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
Not a book for everyone. It is primarily a character study with much of the action taking place in the mind of the narrator. If you like fast paced, plot driven books this one probably won't be your thing. That being said, I found it to be clever, witty and at times down right funny. It was also thought provoking. Who knew a wooden floor could mean so much.
Devin
Dec 13, 2015 Devin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will Wiles takes an excellent premise and offers an entertaining, yet flawed, rendering. The decision to leave the city and nation of the house-sitting gig un-named and unspecified may have contributed to the sense of being in an alien place along side the protagonist. But it also left a nagging doubts about unexplored dimensions of this story. The fact that there are so many stand-ins for an Eastern European city formerly under Soviet occupation left me more interested in what was left unsaid t ...more
Jeff Raymond
Closer to a 4.5, but I really enjoyed my time with this one.

At the start, this seems like a pretty basic tale of a guy who is housesitting. The guy he's housesitting for is clearly a little quirky, but the instructions are pretty clear that he shouldn't touch the piano, take care of the two cats, and make sure the floor is taken care of.

What isn't surprising is that things start to go a little south with a spill of wine. What is surprising is how quickly things spiral out of control. By the tim
...more
Alex S
Jan 14, 2015 Alex S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Care of Wooden Floors" is a series of catastrophes and disasters from start to finish. Like one of those nightmares when things keep going from bad to worse. What I enjoy the most about Wiles' work is his writing style and humour – this was a clear highlight with his second novel, "The Way Inn", and it certainly didn't disappoint here. The character development is superb, and the attention to detail meticulous.

I laughed out loud so many times while reading this - at home, on the bus or even at
...more
Pedro Fragoso
Nov 21, 2014 Pedro Fragoso rated it liked it
Very smart. Starts slow, but goes on building a darkly humorous tale of Murphy's law. The ending is brilliant, the story ultimately very humane, even touching.

Oskar's home: "Oskar’s psychological experiment, which would establish whether dumb, chaotic humanity could rise to his expectations. Conclusion: no." Or: "Everything had been in place for a precise reason. Oskar had built a machine – a device for proving his superiority over other people. He – and maybe only he – could move through this s
...more
Joanne
May 02, 2013 Joanne rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marie
Nov 18, 2012 Marie rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-hard-copy
In Care Of Wooden Floors we follow an unnamed protagonist as he leaves his home in London to be a flat-sitter for an old university friend somewhere in Eastern Europe. His friend, the fastidious Oskar, has had to go to the USA to sort out his divorce, so he has asked our narrator to keep an eye on his beautiful home and look after his two cats. Initially it seems like it's going to be a breeze - with no work obligations to distract him, he can spend lazy days doing a bit of sightseeing before co ...more
Heather Noble
Mar 14, 2012 Heather Noble rated it liked it
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)
Mar 03, 2013 Cyn (RaeWhit) rated it it was amazing
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
April
Dec 03, 2012 April rated it really liked it
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
C.
Oct 30, 2012 C. rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 24, 2013 Diane Dickson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Richa
Jan 31, 2016 Richa rated it really liked it
Will Wiles is funny – alarmingly, uproariously funny. And the Care of wooden floors is one of those books you occasionally lay aside just so you can recover from the tragic comedy that the protagonist’s life is. And then you wince and laugh at the same time.

The book revolves around the protagonist’s attempts to flat-sit a friend’s expansive (and rather amazing) flat in an unnamed former-Soviet-Union country. And he tries, he really does. But he manages to set into motion a series of horribly unf
...more
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“A room is not just a room. A room is a manifestation of a state of mind, the product of an intelligence. Either conscious (...) or unconscious. We make our rooms, and then our rooms make us.” 8 likes
“There is a moment between sleeping and waking where one is free. Consciousness has returned, but awareness has yet to rip away the thin screen between the waker and his surroundings, his reality. You float free of context, in no place – not sleeping, not fully awake, not at the mercy of the unknowns of the subconscious, and not yet exposed to the dull knowns of care and routine. It is at this point, between two worlds, that I think I am happiest.” 7 likes
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