Monday, January 30, 2012
3.5 Stars - Strongly Recommended to readers who like a little bizarro mixed into their fiction
Audio download (approx 11hrs)
Publisher: Iambik Audio / Small Beer Press
This was a book that had been sitting on my goodreads to-buy shelf for over a year, so I was thrilled to see it on Iambik Audio's website. I immediately downloaded a review copy on my Droid, and started listening on my commute to and from work.
First thing worth noting: Couch's Iambik narrator, Gregg Margarite, has an impossibly deep, grumbly voice. So deep, in fact, that I had to drop the bass on my car speakers to -10 to be able to decipher just what this guy was saying! He also has a very awkward "fake" laugh, but that is neither here nor there. These are things you will get used to.
Second thing worth noting: Once you start this book, no matter how silly and strange it gets, there is just no stopping until you reach the end. And boy oh boy, do things sometimes take a turn for the strange...
Couch begins with three unemployed roommates who are forced out of their flooded apartment. Rather than freak out about it, they decide to pool their limited funds together and go on a vacation. Only their landlord throws a bit of a wrench into their plans - they have to take their couch with them. Unhappy but unphased by this odd request, they carry the couch out onto the street with the intention of dropping it off at the nearest Goodwill. However, the couch has another destination in mind. As Thom, Eric, and Tree start trudging it down the sidewalk, the couch begins to grow incredibly heavy. Confused, and not quite believing what they just felt, the three turn around and carry it the other way. Sure as shit, after a few steps, the couch becomes lighter.
Now at the mercy of their seemingly magic (or perhaps possessed?) couch, our three friends reluctantly let it lead them on the journey of a lifetime... across states, across rivers and oceans, into uncharted foreign jungles... all the while being chased by people who want the couch for themselves, and will go to great lengths to get it.
An immensely fun book, Couch never takes itself too seriously. Prophetic dreams, wacky legends, and a secret council of anonymous couch protectors... It will ask you to suspend your disbelief, " If you fall asleep on the couch, it turns you near-comatose?" and ask you to suspend it some more, "The couch can float on the ocean and can't be damaged?"... again and again. No matter how much weird shit it throws at you, no matter how often you find yourself saying "oh, come oooon!", I guarantee you won't be able to stop until you find out just what the heck is up with that damn couch!
Couch is the first novel that I've consciously experienced in Third Person Limited, or Close Third Person. The author lives mostly on the shoulder of Thom - our oversized, recently dumped, computer geek - so, even though we are exposed to Eric and Tree's point of views, we are extremely privy to Thom's thoughts and feelings (though there is one part in the book where the close narration does switch, briefly yet clumsily, from Thom to Eric). For as much as this narration style initially distracted me, it's actually - strangely - a good fit for the story.
As is Gregg. Deep voice aside, he has this odd accent that's part Californian slacker, part hippy-burnout. And while he wouldn't be my first choice for an audiobook narrator, his voice has this slightly bored, resigned quality to it that slowly grows on you and seems to become its own character within the book.
Couch is most definitely for readers who like their fiction a little loose. It toys with you, it plays with the rules, twisting them little by little, and before you know it you are knee deep in it and desperate to know how it's all going to end.
Have you listened to Iambik before? It's a great source for indie literature on audio and it comes at a great price too. Check it out...