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.