Bed

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Overview


A darkly funny and surprisingly tender debut novel about two brothers, one of whom refuses to leave his bed on his 25th birthday.
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Bed: A Novel

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Overview


A darkly funny and surprisingly tender debut novel about two brothers, one of whom refuses to leave his bed on his 25th birthday.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
“Outlandishly clever description… Ingenious one-liners… There’s no question that [David Whitehouse] is a writer to watch.”--Janet Maslin, New York Times

“A gorgeous, heartrending book, a book full of sentences so apt and well wrought, I sometimes had to read them twice.”--Henry Alford, San Francisco Chronicle

“Gorgeous writing… A deceptively effortless, haunting first novel.”--Boston Globe

“David Whitehouse has taken what might be a gimmicky hook in a lesser writer's hands--a romance triangulating around a bedridden media spectacle, the world's most obese man--and turned it, through lapidary prose, into a soulful meditation on a fraternal love as singular as it is universal.”--Teddy Wayne, author of Kapitoil

"Bed is a deftly-told wonder. Mr. Whitehouse's writing is accomplished, poetic, and deeply affecting."—Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned

“Staggering, inventive, and heartbreakingly beautiful.”Esquire (UK)

“The best new novel I’ve read in ages.” —Sam Delaney, Guardian

"Sad and funny and pretty brilliant, too."--The Observer (UK)

"Masterful... [An] accomplished debut... [Whitehouse] maintains a tone of subtlety and grace, pulling a distinguished and accessible story out of a profoundly strange experience."--Publishers Weekly, starred review ("Pick of the Week")

“A totally extraordinary and original novel.”Heat (UK)

“A deeply affecting debut… A thoughtful commentary on food obsession, celebrity and, ultimately, a brother’s love.”—People

Library Journal
Weighing in at more than half a ton, the fattest man on the planet, Mal Ede, has not left his bed for 20 years. The bed has actually grown proportionately larger as he has—now two king-sized beds and a single strapped together to contain him. The bedroom, too, has been enlarged along the way, sending his parents out into a trailer in the driveway. His overindulgent mother keeps him fed and functioning with the help of an elaborate network of medical equipment, while his bewildered father and dutiful brother keep the press and the curious public at bay. Forsaking his devoted girlfriend, Lou, Mal lives only to eat and sleep. VERDICT From a mildly eccentric youth in which he preferred nudity to clothing to his existential crisis at 25, how and why Mal got into bed and stayed there for 20 years is the mystery at the heart of this strange but beguiling tale. Its short, punchy chapters propel the story along to a satisfying conclusion. For most public libraries.—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Kingston, Ont.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451614220
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 8/2/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


David Whitehouse is a writer and journalist better at making things up than he is reporting fact. He lives in London.
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Read an Excerpt

One

Asleep he sounds like a pig hunting truffles in soot. It isn’t snoring, more of a death rattle. But for that it is a quiet morning, the morning of Day Seven Thousand Four Hundred and Eighty-Three, according to the display on the wall.

The peace is punctuated only by the crashing of a crow into the patio door. This almighty clatter doesn’t wake Mal, who continues to produce great growls from deep within his chest. They echo in my ears like the sonar conversations between dolphins and submarines.

Mal weighs a hundred stone, they predicted. That’s big. That’s more than half a ton. Those photographs you see of whales that have beached and exploded, split by the buildup of gases inside, the thick coating of blubber that blankets the sand, that’s what Mal looks like. He has grown and swelled across the bed, two king-size and a single tied together. He has spread out so far from the nucleus of his skeleton, he is an enormous meat duvet.

It has taken him twenty years to become this big. He isn’t even the color of skin anymore. Peppered with burst capillaries, a truck-size block of sausage meat packed into a pair of cheap tights. The fat has claimed his toe- and fingernails, his nipples have stretched to the span of a female hand, and only something with the tenacity of a biscuit crumb could meander through the folds of his tummy. There must be enough for a full packet of biscuits in there by now. In twenty years Mal has become a planet with its own uncharted territories. We are the moons, caught in his orbit, Lou and Mum and Dad and me.

I lie in bed next to him, listening to the great honks his lungs make as they work their hardest to fart a little more air from his mouth. Just the dull, constant drone of it, like having your ears packed with wet bread.

Every rise of his chest triggers a seismic shudder through the room. The ripple of his flab sends waves across the puddle of his body. I ride them, nothing to do but stare out over Mal’s fleshy expanse, the enormous blistered coffin that trapped my brother inside it, to the garden where I watch the bird coat the glass. Maybe it saw Mal as it flew by and mistook him for an enormous trifle.

Twenty years in bed. Mal’s death is the only thing that can save this family because his life has destroyed it. And here I am, at the end, sharing this room with him. The room we began in. Or at least a fraction of it.

Dad told me once, “To love someone is to watch them die.”

One

Asleep he sounds like a pig hunting truffles in soot. It isn’t snoring, more of a death rattle. But for that it is a quiet morning, the morning of Day Seven Thousand Four Hundred and Eighty-Three, according to the display on the wall.

The peace is punctuated only by the crashing of a crow into the patio door. This almighty clatter doesn’t wake Mal, who continues to produce great growls from deep within his chest. They echo in my ears like the sonar conversations between dolphins and submarines.

Mal weighs a hundred stone, they predicted. That’s big. That’s more than half a ton. Those photographs you see of whales that have beached and exploded, split by the buildup of gases inside, the thick coating of blubber that blankets the sand, that’s what Mal looks like. He has grown and swelled across the bed, two king-size and a single tied together. He has spread out so far from the nucleus of his skeleton, he is an enormous meat duvet.

It has taken him twenty years to become this big. He isn’t even the color of skin anymore. Peppered with burst capillaries, a truck-size block of sausage meat packed into a pair of cheap tights. The fat has claimed his toe- and fingernails, his nipples have stretched to the span of a female hand, and only something with the tenacity of a biscuit crumb could meander through the folds of his tummy. There must be enough for a full packet of biscuits in there by now. In twenty years Mal has become a planet with its own uncharted territories. We are the moons, caught in his orbit, Lou and Mum and Dad and me.

I lie in bed next to him, listening to the great honks his lungs make as they work their hardest to fart a little more air from his mouth. Just the dull, constant drone of it, like having your ears packed with wet bread.

Every rise of his chest triggers a seismic shudder through the room. The ripple of his flab sends waves across the puddle of his body. I ride them, nothing to do but stare out over Mal’s fleshy expanse, the enormous blistered coffin that trapped my brother inside it, to the garden where I watch the bird coat the glass. Maybe it saw Mal as it flew by and mistook him for an enormous trifle.

Twenty years in bed. Mal’s death is the only thing that can save this family because his life has destroyed it. And here I am, at the end, sharing this room with him. The room we began in. Or at least a fraction of it.

Dad told me once, “To love someone is to watch them die.”

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

4 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2013

    LOL

    How does he go pee

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    Shut up

    About nook $&%. Its WRONG AND GROSS

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    KACIE

    SATOP STEALING MY NAME NOWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    Taylor

    Not here

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    Mya to Nate

    If you even ever come back....im very sorry i havent been on. My internet went out and we just got it fixed. I love you and i hope to see you soon.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    Nate

    Really you sound like you wanna fuk

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Witty writing, needs more to be a good novel

    This was definitely a book unlike anything I've read before. I didn't particularly like it, but it made me think about things that don't usually occupy my mind and that gives it value outside of the realm of pure entertainment. Whitehouse has a gift of witty and to the point observations that make you understand exactly what was going on and how everybody involved felt, or mainly how Mal's brother felt. Sometimes after reading a paragraph I couldn't help but silently exclaim "Exactly! That's exactly how it is!" because his characters, who are definitely the highlight of the book, are very ordinary people with simple lives and what happens to them can and often has happened to any one of us at some point. His descriptions don't shy away from anything and his writing style is almost journal-like.
    I keep referring to Mal's brother as "Mal's brother" because we never find out what his name is and that gave me some of that food for thought I was referring to earlier. On one hand how often do we talk about our own lives and address ourselves by our first name? On the other hand, why doesn't anyone else ever address him by his first name? Another thing I couldn't help but think about was whether Mal was selfish in making himself the focus of his family in such an unusual way or whether he was the glue that kept this family that would've fallen apart otherwise together. Did he destroy their lives or did he give their lives meaning, like he said he wanted to do in the beginning of the book.
    The reason I didn't especially like this story lies in that as clever as Mr. Whitehouse is too often the book feels like a bunch of one-liners put together and called a novel. The "present" chapters felt tedious and with every meticulous description of Mal and his fat and how their mother cared for him I couldn't help but feel slightly nauseated, wanting to find out more about the past instead of focusing on the present that didn't seem to go anywhere. Another reason for my lukewarm opinion of this book is that I didn't really understand what happened to Mal in the end. The big climax was getting him out of the house and then he just... vanished from the story. Are we to understand that he died? But how? Did he pull the plug or simply didn't make it? I'm all for endings that aren't all cut and dried but there was just too much left unsaid in this book.
    It all ends well for the main characters of this tragic story. They find love, they find themselves and things work out for them despite everything. I was glad that they were able to make a life for themselves in the end, although I wouldn't want to spend any more time with them than I did. They were all just too messed up. Then again, aren't we all messed up in our own ways?

    Book received courtesy of Simon & Schuster

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 18, 2011

    Inventive Language Weaves a Turbid Tale

    David Whitehouse possesses a wonderful gift of language. Unfortunately, in BED, his gift serves little purpose other than to garner praise for his syntax. You find yourself focusing with admiration on his descriptions. Even that becomes a chore at as you struggle to the end because the story, what little there is of it, lies inert like 1,400 lbs. Mal on his bed. As to the point of Mal's discontent, it might be that there is no point to life, so why live it? Or, perhaps, if you can't rise above the crowd on merit, try getting into the Guinness Book of World Records with absurdist, self-destructive behavior. Along the way, wreck the lives of your parents, your brother, and your best girl. But, then, they should know better than to sacrifice themselves to a fellow who sees no future for himself. It will be interesting to see if Whitehouse can use his very powerful fund of words and skills at arranging them in inventive ways to tell a compelling story the next time out. You'll be happy with BED if you read it for the language and for the prospect that David Whitehouse might evolve into a very good novelist.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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