Fiction Will Wiles Care of Wooden Floors

ISBN 13: 9780007424436

Care of Wooden Floors

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9780007424436: Care of Wooden Floors

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 marriage dismantled by lawyers. He has entrusted an old university friend with the task of looking after his cats, and taking care of his perfect, beautiful apartment. Despite the fact that Oskar has left dozens of surreally detailed notes covering every aspect of looking after the flat, things do not go well. Care of Wooden Floors is about how a tiny oversight can trip off a disastrous and farcical (fatal, even) chain of consequences. It's about a friendship between two men who don't know each other very well. It's about alienation and being alone in a foreign city. It's about the quest for perfection and the struggle against entropy. And it is, a little, about how to take care of wooden floors.

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About the Author:

Will Wiles is an architecture and design journalist. He lives in London. Website: www.willwiles.blogspot.com

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

DAY ONE

People are afraid of flying. I’ve never understood that. It’s a most remarkable experience; yes, even in a cramped seat in a noisy compartment on a three-hour budget flight with no food. You are still in the air. You are Above. It is extraordinary in the most direct and apt way; you are outside the ordinary. The ordinary is pushed down, rendered for a score of minutes into a mosaic of green and brown and mercury, and then you’re with the clouds.
   There has never been a better time to be alive, and that is not simply thanks to penicillin, flush toilets and central heating, it’s because now we can look down on the clouds. Clouds are utterly faithful to their promise of ethereal beauty. When I was very young, I imagined clouds to be warm and soft to the touch, because I knew they were water, and so therefore they must be steam because that’s what they looked like, and steam was warm. Perfect logic. Of course, they are not warm, but in the air-conditioned cylinder of your midweek commercial flight, they fulfil their old promise because they are awash with sunlight – no matter the daytime weather beneath, the cloud tops must be exposed to the sun, that is their guarantee, that is their tiny miracle.
   Renaissance artists must have felt this love of clouds, and appreciation of their natural splendour, and having always felt separated from their true glory were moved to populate them with putti and seraphim; so perfect was their approximation of the wonderfulness of being above cloud level that to be there now is to expect these heavenly denizens to be there with you. But they are not. You are alone above a landscape that is forever changing, forever unique, forever special for you; rolling cirrus meadows and boiling mountaintops across unfathomed distance. You are an explorer and this is your new-found land.
   But with all this beauty and isolation there is also an obligation – you must return, you must descend, back to the imperfect.

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Will Wiles
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