Care of Wooden Floors

Publisher: Anchor Canada
A brilliantly dark literary debut of death, destruction and interior decoration.
"But for the floors, and the sofa, and the porn, and the dead and missing, the flat was restored to order."
An old friend asks you to look after his two cats and his apartment. What could go wrong? 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.
Oskar is a Mittel-European 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 to Laura 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.
Dark, funny and compelling, this novel takes your breath away with its extraordinarily distinctive writing. The voice is unexpected, constantly, but consistently conveys a universal human experience that pulls the reader right into the world of the narrator.


“A debut as crisp, slick and polished as a well-cared-for wooden floor.”
—The Scotsman
Wiles has an eye for beauty, but an even more impressive eye for ugliness. . . . A novel full of impeccably stylish writing.”
The Guardian
“Wiles has a knack for slapstick, and one can’t help but laugh as Oskar’s flat falls farcically foul of his friend’s ‘paralytic pratfalls.’ . . . Care of Wooden Floors is funny, beguiling and quietly profound; it’s a wonderfully well-crafted debut.”
Times Literary Supplement
“A darkly comic battle of wills.”
Art Review
“While Wiles’ novel is a slapstick, catastrophic romp, it’s also a rumination on relationships and happiness. . . . National Lampoon couldn’t get into a messier house-sitting situation. . . . Assured, very witty, not too highbrow but gorgeously written. Thumbs up.”
“[Wiles] is a talented comedy writer, and intelligent enough to anticipate his readers’ thoughts so that disasters that unfold are not clumsy slapstick, nor lazily opportunistic gags, but accidents that occur despite the narrator’s best efforts to be careful. . . . A very funny novel combining schadenfreude and belly laughs. Just don’t let Wiles flat-sit for you.”
The Independent
“Ingenious . . . A smart and polished debut.”
The Telegraph

“Strangely compelling . . . weirdly addictive, and rather clever, too.”
Daily Mail (UK)
“The novel’s strength lies in Wiles’s wry depiction of the battle between chaos and order.”
The Sunday Times

“This is Will Wiles’ first novel, but it's executed with skill and craftsmanship of a veteran novelist. The prose is clean and elegant, the story tightly focused, the humor and the realism in careful balance. It's a very English comic novel, understated and wry, and even the most absurd events are both self-deprecating and ingeniously necessary for the plot.”
Toronto Star