Bed by David Whitehouse
A Novel

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Synopsis

Reminiscent of such novels as A Confederacy of Dunces and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Bed is a darkly funny and surprisingly tender debut novel about two brothers, one of whom refuses to leave his bed on his twenty-fifth birthday.

Mal Ede, a child of untamed manners and unbounded curiosity, is the eccentric eldest son of an otherwise typical middle-class family. But as the wonders of childhood fade into the responsibilities of adulthood, Mal’s spirits fade too. On his twenty-fifth birthday, disillusioned, Mal goes to bed—back to his childhood bed—and never emerges again.

Narrated by Mal’s shy, diligent younger brother, Bed details Mal’s subsequent extreme and increasingly grotesque transformation: immobility and a gargantuan appetite combine, over the course of two decades, to make him the fattest man in the world. Despite his seclusion and his refusal to explain his motivations, Mal’s condition earns him worldwide notoriety and a cult of followers convinced he is making an important statement about modern life. But Mal’s actions will also change the lives of his haunted parents, his brother and the woman they both love, Lou.

In Bed, David Whitehouse has put a magnifying glass on contemporary society. Hailed as a “momentous” (The Bookseller) debut in the UK, Bed is a mordantly funny and ultimately redemptive parable about mortality, obesity, celebrity, depression and the broken promises of adulthood. It is one of the most audacious debut novels in years.
 

About David Whitehouse

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David Whitehouse is Executive Director of the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York.
 
Published August 2, 2011 by Scribner. 305 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Bed

Kirkus Reviews

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Meanwhile, Mal’s brother nurtures a secret passion for Lou, whose misguided affection lingers long after Mal’s connection to the world has been severed.

Jul 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

The New York Times

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Over and over Mr. Whitehouse conjures Mal with the ingenuity of a supremely macabre cartoonist, as in: “I dreamt sometimes of standing on him, my feet disappearing up to ankle height in his flab, schloop schloop schloop as I stepped, like in quicksand.” Mal’s epidermis: “the enormous bli...

Jul 31 2011 | Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

The Guardian

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Sadly, Lou, Mal's first and only girlfriend and the love of his younger brother's life, is a blank figure who allows herself to be passed between the brothers and her father as if she hasn't a thought in her head.

Jul 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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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 enigmat...

May 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

Kirkus Reviews

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And now that her mother was dead, and Dad had begun to retreat, to Mal she had devoted herself fully.

Aug 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

AV Club

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A 1,400-pound man pulls his entire family into his orbit in this quiet, splintered novel. 

Aug 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

Macleans

Coinciding with the London riots that last week pitted the alienated, angry, bored, mischievous youths of middle-class England against the dull, endless monotone of their own recession-weary lives, comes Bed, a novel that elaborates on that same theme of waste, decadence and disaster, but casts t...

Aug 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

We Love This Book

Narrated by Mal's brother, who has always looked up to him, Bed explores the circumstance and impact of Mal's decision to go to bed and never get up.

Feb 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

Narrated by Mal’s shy, diligent younger brother, Bed details Mal’s subsequent extreme and increasingly grotesque transformation: immobility and a gargantuan appetite combine, over the course of two decades, to make him the fattest man in the world.

Aug 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

New Zealand Listener

It is an unfortunate reality of the reality-television era that the notion of a man going to bed for 20 years and morphing into a 100-stone “meat duvet” is both believable and unremarkable.

Jul 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

New Zealand Woman's Weekly

I’m sorry but I am just an old-fashioned sucker for a book where the heroine has been unlucky in love and so escapes to an off-season island to walk on windswept beaches as she revisits the sins of her past and their dreadful consequences.

| Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

The [TK] Review

David Whitehouse’s debut novel, Bed, is about a British family stuck in a small house with an ever-expanding obese son named Mal, who decided on his twenty-fifth birthday to stay in bed for the remainder of his life.

Oct 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Bed: A Novel

Reader Rating for Bed
76%

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