Literary and historical allusions sprinkled throughout make the novel something of a treasure hunt, and a bit of bathrobe philosophizing in parts will make you go “hm.” Couch is a quick and funny read, a short fable that ensnares us in its quixotic intentions and encourages us to believe for a short time in something magic, even if it is just a couch.
Once upon a time, Donald Barthelme, Jonathan Lethem and Umberto Eco attended a film festival together. The featured flicks were Kiss Me Deadly, Fitzcarraldo, and Repo Man . Inspired by this odd bill of fare, the trio set out to collaborate on a novel. The result was Benjamin Parzybok’s debut, Couch . Not the way it happened? Well, it’s a genesis story competely in keeping with this gonzo odyssey.
Parzybok’s easy voice is guileless and contemporary, fluid and colorful as that of Tom Robbins, yet concealing considerable craft. His intermittent switching among the consciousnesses of his trio — and even including other secondary viewpoints — is not a classical strategy, but it works pretty well. Privileging Thom’s perspective, Parzybok delivers a funny yet deep novel that’s all about the quest to pass from a stultifying, aimless, safe stasis to a dangerous yet fulfilling uncertainty — via one humble piece of furniture.