Monday, 13 July 2009

Major Project 1: Care of Wooden Floors

From time to time I mention that I'm writing a book, or I post an update on how it's going on Twitter or Facebook, and someone asks me what it's about. I am not very good at exciting one-sentence summaries: In the past I have described it as "an episode of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em written by Franz Kafka", "a sort of satire on minimalist interior design" and "a little like Mon Oncle vs Lost In Translation". When I don't feel like talking about it I say "it's about looking after wooden floors". I often wish I had a detailed description that I could link to. This is that description.

The book is called Care of Wooden Floors. That's a working title that stuck. At time of writing, I have completed 67,000 words against a target of 75,000. It's non-genre literary fiction.

Oskar is a Mitteleuropan minimalist composer best known for a piece called Variations on Tram Timetables. He is married to a Californian art dealer named Laura and lives with two cats, named after Russian composers, in an Eastern European city.

The book isn't really about Oskar. It's really about Oskar's flat, a glorious haven of minimalist design, with Mies van der Rohe furniture, white walls, a stainless-steel kitchen and exquisite wooden floors. Oskar is in Los Angeles, having his marriage dismantled by lawyers. He has trusted an old college friend to look after his perfect, beautiful flat. 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 chain of consequences, and destroy an exceptionally expensive floor. It's about the relationship 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. It's about the influence our homes have over our lives. And it is, a little, about how to take care of wooden floors.


Leo Lincourt said...

That sounds like a fantastic story. I'll certainly look forward to reading it when it comes out. Perhaps I can even foist it on our little non-academic bookclub, though I'm afraid the 2009-2010 schedule has already been set in stone. I hope you don't mind the comparison, but the subject matter and treatment are suggestive of something Nick Hornby would do. I hope your sales match his.

Will said...

Thanks Leo. I doubt it'll be out in time for your 2009-10 season ... but the first draft will be finished by September, if not next month.

The Nick Hornby comparison is a bit of a surprise but I see what you mean - slightly anal mean, social awkwardness ...

Barbara Chandler said...

is there a place for hitler cat?

made me think of lines from an old poem - dredged from bottom of saved Amstrad saved Olivetti saved eyebrow pencil on back of cheque book (no,did not have cheque book)

The oil lamp made of solid brass
Comes shiny with a loving hand
Can you hope to understand
The joy that comes from polishing?

Clare Dudman said...

That sounds fantastic! Excellent title too! Best of luck with it.

Lisa said...

What a cool approach - love the title!

I struggle with one-sentence summaries too...this was a good synopsis.

Will said...

Thanks, Clare and Lisa!

Myf Skypper said...

I've had a similar thoughts about minimal interior design as you must have had as a genesis for your book. Nice to see someone is doing intellectual heavy lifting while I'm busy wearing expensive coats to make my meagre living. When it's printed i'll be sure to buy a copy and read it out loud then sell the audiobooks! And make millions! Just kidding, but it sounds like a good time

rutep said...

wow, sounds great! And I love the title.