Couch. A novel. An odyssey. An epic furniture removal. A road trip. An exuberant and hilarious debut in which an episode of furniture moving gone awry becomes an impromptu quest of self-discovery, secret histories, and unexpected revelations.
Thom is a computer geek whose hacking of a certain Washington-based software giant has won him a little fame but few job prospects. Erik is a smalltime con man, a fast-talker who is never quite quick enough on his feet. Their roommate, Tree, is a confused clairvoyant whose dreams and prophecies may not be completely off base.After a freak accident floods their apartment, the three are evicted—but they have to take their couch with them. The real problem? The couch—huge and orange—won’t let them put it down. Soon the roommates are off on a cross-country trek along back roads, byways, and rail lines, heading far out of Portland and deep into one very weird corner of the American dream.
I came across this title when browsing the "New Releases" section. I read the summary and thought it sounded really different and original. I downloaded it and dove right in.
The first thing to strike me was the strange way the narrator was speaking. He has a really strange way of stressing random words, and it makes it very difficult to understand what he's saying. I had to back up several times in the beginning to make out the words. There were several times I honestly thought it was computer generated, and then something would be said that sounded more human, and I'd change my mind back...until the next strange sentence.
The summary on the book is inaccurate. It's not that these three fellows can't put the couch down, it's just that they decide not to. Reading the summary I got the impression perhaps their hands were magically stuck to it, but that's not the case.
If you disregarded the strange reading voice, the beginning of the book was actually quite interesting. About half way through however, things started to unravel. The plot seemed on hold while strange monologues and tangents were given the lead. These detours seemed like maybe they were trying to suggest a deeper meaning or moral to the story, but were still dancing around it, leaving me with nothing.
I was so nonplussed by the (non) direction the book had taken, that I thought maybe I was to blame. I went so far as to put the story on hold, while I Googled interviews with the author, to try to get some sort of insight to what his goal had been, so I could listen with fresh ears and try to appreciate it more. I read three different interviews and even a suggested "book club discussion guide" and was left only with the fact that the author and his wife once carried a couch they had bought down a high street in Portland, and some people thought it was performance art, and it gave him the idea to write a book about people carrying a couch. (I'm not kidding).
So... there you go. I will admit that I adjusted to the narrator a little, and the performance did improve a bit as the book went on, but not enough for me to stop wishing for any other narrator. I really hope everyone else likes this selection more than I did. I'll definitely be checking back to see what other reviewers thought of this one.
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