Couch by Benjamin Parzybok
Published: Small Beer Press
Released : November, 2008
This one came from Scalzi’s Big Idea. The concept sounded interesting so I threw it onto my Christmas list. My family thought I looked forward to it so much, they gave me two copies. One of those went over to my brother.
I’ll start off by being honest – Couch started off stronger than it finished, but not by too much. Each day as it sits and percolates in the brain, the more I enjoy it. I may give it another read sometime.
Couch is about Thom, a computer programmer out of work. His roommates are Eric, a con-artist who is not terribly successful and Tree, who sees visions and makes incredibly detailed figurines out of wire.
After their apartment floods, they are evicted and forced to take their couch with them. Only the couch only wants to go one way. Try taking it the other direction and it becomes impossible to carry. On top of that, other people have expressed an interest in the couch. One offers tens of thousands of dollars. Another is willing to kill for it. Some are willing to die to protect it.
Couch has its dark moments and its lighthearted. Parzybok did a wonderful job with his characters, primarily Thom. The computer geek transitioned from a steadfast reliance on what made sense to accepting the magical. He went from being shy and uncertain to going forward, even if he didn’t know where the couch was going to lead him.
It ended up being far more surreal than I expected, though it did pose questions and subjects I found fascinating. One that stood out was posed by Parzybok in an interview and surfaces in the book. Every civilization is built on top of another civilization. That civilization is built on top of another one and so forth. Who are we to judge that what has been discovered today is actually new? How much have we thrown aside without realizing it?
It took me a little while to realize it, but the end result and the mystery of the couch is something close to the Hughes family. I won’t spoil it, you’ll have to read the book for that, but it has something to do with the purpose of Seed Savers Exchange, the non-profit Steph works for.
Couch was an great book. No, it’s not a book for weekend kicks. It’s a bit more thoughtful than that. Steph and I read it over our recent week long vacation (we actually fought to the book in our hand before the other person). It was fun discussing it when we were finished, making the time spent together more enjoyable. I would highly recommend it