Bed

David Whitehouse, Author
David Whitehouse. Simon & Schuster, $24 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4516-1422-0
Reviewed on: 05/02/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4516-1424-4
Hardcover - 978-1-4458-7121-9
Hardcover - 6 pages - 978-1-4458-6711-3
Hardcover - 6 pages - 978-1-4458-6739-7
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-4458-7120-2
Paperback - 297 pages - 978-1-84767-981-9
Paperback - 297 pages - 978-1-84767-982-6
Open Ebook - 393 pages - 978-1-921834-68-4
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A masterful balance of displaced emotion, black humor, and reportage, this accomplished debut offers an offbeat insight into the lives of a family dealing with morbid obesity. Malcolm "Mal" Ede is the ultimate nonconformist, and, on his 25th birthday, he decides to go to bed and stay there—forever. His increasingly newsworthy protest of the idea of "a mediocre existence" of work, bills, marriage, and kids, and his slide into stasis-induced gross obesity is told from the point of view of his unnamed younger brother, who treats readers to a glimpse of the lives that are touched by the enigmatic Mal. In each of the members of Mal's immediate family, his avoidance of life is reflected—his mother, who thrives on martyrdom; his engineer father, who carries with him guilt for a fatal mining disaster; and his brother, stoic in every regard except his unrequited love for Mal's girlfriend, Lou. The central question of the novel is "why?" asked by the journalists who call for interviews, the gawkers who camp out on the lawn, and by those closest to Mal. Whitehouse deals with material that threatens to tip into the overwrought or clownish, but he maintains a tone of subtlety and grace, pulling a distinguished and accessible story out of a profoundly strange experience. (Aug.)
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