Handee Books has a review of Couch in their October newsletter. From what Scott has been reading:
The first is Couch by Benjamin Parzybok, published by Small Beer Press. Small Beer is Kelly Link and Gavin Grant’s company, and they publish nothing but quality work. Take a look at their catalog. You’ll find work by John Crowley, Geoff Ryman, Ellen Kushner, Kate Wilhelm, Carol Emshwiller, John Kessel…and the list goes on. It’s a carefully considered list, and there’s not a dud on it. Parzybok’s book is the first to be plucked from the Small Beer slush pile. Link and Grant have exceptional taste, so you can proceed from the assumption that Couch is going to be good.
And it is.
It has an irresistible premise: three roommates, Thom, Erik and Tree, are forced into homelessness by a waterbed mishap above their apartment. Nearly all their meager possessions are destroyed; the only surviving items are Thom’s laptop, Tree’s wire and pliers (he’s a sculptor), a smattering of clothes and household items and the hideous orange couch that was in place when the three moved in. The trio decide to use their misfortune as the starting point of a journey, at first waffling between trips to Mexico and across the country. When they try to get rid of the couch by donating it to Goodwill, they realize the couch…doesn’t want to go. Thus begins one of the strangest road novels you’ll ever read.
It’s a funny and fun book, and it’s also a very smart book. The story turns on the myths of many cultures and the observations about human nature are substantial. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Thom is forced to use a gun. The experience is completely new to him, and he has absolutely no idea how to use the weapon beyond what he’s seen on TV or in the movies. I could have done without some of the bodily function humor, but I enjoyed spending time with the three slacker heroes and their attempts to unravel the mystery of the ugly orange couch. Fans of Tom Robbins or Christopher Moore should enjoy this.