The Way Inn takes the polished surfaces of modern life, the branded coffee and the free wifi, and twists them into a nightmare.
The Way Inn is a global chain of identikit mid-budget hotels, and Neil Double is a valued member of its loyalty scheme. Neil is a professional conference-goer, a man who will attend trade fairs, expos, and conventions so you don't have to. This life of anonymised, budget travel would be hell for most, but it's a kind of paradise for Neil, who has turned his incognito professional life into a toxic personal philosophy.
But Neil is about to change. In a brand-new Way Inn in an airport hinterland, he meets a woman - a woman he has seen before in bizarre and unsettling circumstances. She hints at being in possession of an astonishing truth about this mundane world. And then she disappears. Fascinated, and with his professional life unravelling, Neil tries to find the woman again. In doing so he is drawn into the appalling secret that lurks behind the fake smiles and muzak of the hotel.…
Praise for ‘Care of Wooden Floors':
”Funny and richly poetic…a surreal, farcical, original first novel” (The Times Books of the Year)
”A very funny novel combining schadenfreude and belly laughs.” (Independent)
”This is a terrific first novel, written with a very engaging deadpan wit, and an understated sense of the absurd.” (Kate Saunders, The Times)
”Ingenious…his story has something in common, in terms of manic sensitivity, with Edgar Allan Poes' The Tell-Tale Heart…[with] deft and precise descriptive asides. This is a smart and polished debut.” (Daily Telegraph)
”This novel acquires the queasy allure of a cliff edge, the sense of impending catastrophe becoming strangely compelling…addictive and rather clever, too.” (Daily Mail)
”Funny, beguiling and quietly profound; a wonderfully well-crafted debut.” (TLS)
”A nicely turned satire on the notion that the path to spiritual contentment lies in a pristine set of polished wooden floorboards …Wiles has an eye for beauty, but an even more impressive eye for ugliness… a novel full of impeccably stylish writing…” (Guardian)
”A novel about minimalism and chaos, which reveals more about the interaction of architecture and life than many an earnest treatise. If you want above all a good read, get this one.” (Guardian Best Architecture Books of the Year)
”Highly idiosyncratic, well-written, with a vivid sense of place is compelling.” (Michael Frayn)
”Care of Wooden Floors is a wonderful work. Precisely constructed, with an eye that sees in between the everyday spaces of our lives, it sheds new light, not only on ourselves, but on the contemporary novel itself.” (Lee Rourke, author of The Canal)
”The novel's strength lies in Wiles's wry depiction of the battle between chaos and order.” (Sunday Times)
”entertainingly conjure[s] up a life lived through aesthetics” (Art Review)
”Wiles is a talent to watch” (The Spectator)
”Compelling” (Independent on Sunday)
Modern day life is ripe for ridicule and this one deals with the world of business people and their dreaded business conferences. This is a very funny satire and many people (including myself) will recognise the dread of having to network with people you do not know and would never dream of mixing with in private life. The rituals of pleasant banter and beating a hasty exit when a conference is over, brought back many wince inducing memories and I am only too grateful I am not part of that world any more. The science fiction side of the story is fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed the depiction of the Way Inn mega corporate chain and its very dark secrets. Like the hotel this book may have benefited from some downsizing, but overall this was an enjoyable experience and made me laugh at loud along the way.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
This story was interesting in its concept but by the time the mysterious second half of the story had started to fully emerge I had gone past caring. The monotonous convention centre stuff had gone on for too long and I only finished it because I was invested in it and hoped it would have an ending to justify the first half. It was a decent ending but not worth the wait in the end. Shame.
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I wasn't sure about this for a few chapters and wondered whether to carry on - there was so much focus on describing life in the hotel and attending conferences. I really did wonder where it was going and if I had the patience to find out. Then suddenly it started to make sense, the story picked up and I couldn't turn it off. I can't say more about the content as I don't want to spoil it for anyone!
Also of note is the writing itself - brilliantly masterful. I'm an obsessive reader/ listener of books and have to say Will Wiles has an amazing way of observing and describing things, parts of life, that you simply would never think of as being important enough to bother describing. Quite philosophical, thought-provoking and very clever. Because of his observational approach the book is also threaded with humour and the narrator carries it all really well.
I'm a big fan of Luke Smitherd and have read all of his books - I'd say if you like him, you'll enjoy this; I think it's a similar level of 'weird but good'. Persevere through the first few chapters, they're there for a reason and just enjoy the rest :-)