Book Review: "Couch" by Benjamin Parzybok

Just some random couch clip art. I know, lazy blogging.
"Couch" by BenjaminParzybok is a story about three young men, their friendship and their magical couch. These young men are leading meaningless existences and spending endless hours in their living room, sitting on their couch. Then, the story tailspins into a journey that involves an ocean and two continents with a couch that is half burden, half conveyance. It is a sort of oddball adventure that delves, half-jokingly, into the stationary existence of modern couch potatoes and the meaning of legends. "Couch" is Parzybok’s first novel and it is a wacky one.

At the start of the novel, a young computer hacker/has-been named Thom is moving into an apartment with two other men, Eric and Tree, whom he hardly knows. It turns out that they are all sort of trapped in their jobless and ennui-filled lives, so they begin to bond with one another and spend more and more time in their apartment. One night, while the trio is sleeping, their upstairs neighbors get into a passionate romp, which breaks their waterbed. The ensuing flood destroys the young men’s apartment and they are forced to move so that the landlord can repair the damage.

Thom, Eric and Tree decide that they will go on a road trip to shake off the bad vibes they are all felling after the unrealistic destruction of their apartment, but first they must dispose of their couch. Strangely, their every attempt to ditch or donate the couch fails and they are forced to carry it through town after town in Oregon. From there the story takes several strange and comical turns.

First, they discover that their couch is some sort of valuable artifact that may be quite valuable. Then, they find themselves adrift in the Pacific Ocean aboard their couch, which is mysteriously floating. Then, they find that they are destined to journey to South America, where they are to return the couch to the “center of the world.” Along the way, Thom, Tree and Eric meet several interesting characters and find themselves in several hilarious or emotional situations.

"Couch" is a fun read, for the most part. It contains gunfights, prophecies, legends, love, friendship, adventure and magic. However, the novel is a really big build-up to a flat ending. SPOILER ALERT: It is revealed in the last pages of the book, that the couch is a sort of ark for all of the seeds of all of the trees on Earth, past and present. All you can say is, what?

The contents of the couch are meant to be symbolic, but they fall short of the reader’s expectations. Throughout the novel, there are several clues as to what the couch may be and none of them add up to what it is revealed to be in the end. The ending of "Couch" can be described as nothing short of anticlimactic, although the rest of the book was really amusing. In all, "Couch" is not a bad first novel for Benjamin Parzybok.

Shelly Barclay

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