What makes life worth getting out of bed for?
Mal isn’t like the other kids. So remarkable is his childhood that his family wait for the incredible things he seems born to do. Then one day he goes to bed, never to get out again. Recounted by Mal’s younger brother, Bed is a coming-of-age story like no other. It chronicles the metamorphosis of one extraordinary man, and explores what love, loss and family can do to you in a lifetime.
Enchanting, funny, surreal and heartwarming, David Whitehouse’s novel presents one of the most thrilling and unique voices to emerge from Britain in years.
Bed tells the story of Malcom Ede, a charismatic and slightly unusual boy who becomes dissatisfied with life. Told from the perspective of Mal’s brother – who lives constantly in Mal’s ever-growing shadow – Mal takes to his bed on his 25th birthday and refuses to get up. Ever again.
This might seem like a strange story, and it is really. But I found it to be beautifully written, with lots of wonderfully rich (and sometimes slightly stomach-churning) descriptions, and I just couldn’t put it down. I took the narrator to my heart and found myself desperately wanting him to break free of the shackles of being Mal’s brother. This was quite frustrating at times, but I love a book that makes me feel something – and this book definitely did that.
Bed explores family relationships, and how sometimes love isn’t always a positive. Mal’s Mum has a desperate need to be needed, and in her bed-ridden son she finds her reason for being. She feeds Mal until he becomes so fat he cannot get out of bed, but Mal doesn’t seem concerned. Mal’s Dad seems to quitely despair, but is too engrossed in his own private miseries to really tackle the problem of his expanding son and enabling wife. Even Mal’s fiancee, who the narrator is also devoted to, falls under Mal’s spell – camping out in his garden when Mal refuses to see her.
As the narrator tries to escape his stifling family situation, I really went on a journey with him. I was there, willing him on, as he tried to change his life around. And I was also there, feeling devastated and confused when things didn’t turn out the way he (and I!) had hoped.
I’d really recommend this book. It’s a bit different, it’s beautifully written and it explores some really interesting relationship dynamics. And most importantly of all, it makes the reader feel something.