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Couch
Benjamin Parzybok
Small Beer Press, 280 pages

Couch
Benjamin Parzybok
Benjamin Parzybok received a BA in Creative Writing from the Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA. He has lived in Central America, Taiwan, R.O.C., Ecuador, up and down the Pacific Northwest, and now lives in Portland, Oregon, with the writer Laura Moulton and their two children.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by John Enzinas

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My wife has a set of stories that she describes as "guy stories," a category that contains such notable tales as Easy Rider, City Slickers and Deliverance. In such a story a group of young males decide to set them selves to some inconsequential task. The journey is filled with adversity, strife, joy and tragedy as the men struggle to finish their quest. In the end the characters discover who they really are.

Couch by Benjamin Parzybok is one of these stories with a healthy dose of magic realism added for seasoning. It is the tale of three young men: Thom, a reformed computer hacker who is now unemployed, Eric, a small time grifter and Tree, a former commune child.

The story starts with the three of them having just moved into an apartment furnished with the couch of a former occupant. Their landlord kicks them out as the result of a flood and they are forced to empty out the apartment. They decide to get rid of whatever they can and end up carrying the couch to the Goodwill. The man at the Goodwill won't accept the couch. "Not a name brand" he says and directs them to The William Temple second hand shop. That shop is run by a strangely similar man who will also not take the couch.

They start wandering aimlessly with the couch and discover to their surprise that the couch has some unusual properties, the most notable being that the couch feels lighter when going in some directions and heavier in others, almost as if it has a destination in mind.

The story gets stranger and stranger as the adventurers find themselves riding the rails on an electric cart, drifting on the couch in the Pacific Ocean, stowaways on a freighter bound for the Ecuador, and carrying the couch through the jungles of South America on a cart with a fog propeller. In between there is action, philosophy, violence, sex, drinking, fishing, terrorists, shadowy cabals, fishing and gluten intolerance.

The story is fun, the characters are sympathetic and the writing is tight. There is only one minor criticism. At one point one of the characters says "Sometimes things make less sense when they are explained, but a lack of understanding does not take away from their importance." While I think this advice could have been applied to the ending and left us with a little bit more mystery it does not make the book any less enjoyable.

Copyright © 2009 John Enzinas

John Enzinas reads frequently and passionately. In his spare time he plays with swords.


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