Monday, May 11, 2009

From the Library: "Couch" by Benjamin Parzybok

"From ten feet, a guardian angel's view, the view this tale will take, three men carry a couch. An orange, knit couch of considerable size." This statement, appearing on page one, is the last appearance of anything remotely meta or self-referential in Benjamin Parzybok's newish debut novel, Couch.

For the next two hundred and eighty pages, it's pretty straightforward omniscient third person narrative, more or less focalized on one of the book's three main characters. They are the young men carrying the couch. As it turned out, that was fine with PDX Writer Daily, which read it quickly and happily, and felt satisfied by the ending. PDXWD believed—as much as the intricate web-based mash of wires and ponies that is PDXWD can believe anything these days—in the characters, and enjoyed Parzybok's description of Portland's West Side.

Furthermore, PDXWD has already recommended this book to perhaps twenty people. You see, PDXWD has recently accepted a slew of odd jobs to make ends meet. (Those Doctor Bronner labels don't write themselves, people.) So as we were giving War & Peace a little break from us (it just seemed sort of tired, and looking away when we were reading, and generally, just, not present), we read Couch while making change at a very high profile, and thus unnameable, parking structure.

When drivers stopped to pay for parking, we looked up and smiled, and they asked, "Good book?" And we said, "So far, it's pretty great," and handed it to them. And now, through the power of a medium other than the parking structure, we say the same to you: Couch, written by Portlander Ben Parzybok (who won North America's Last Postmodern Manuscript Contest last year) is great so far.

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