* Tumbledown by Robert Boswell


There are many aspects of Tumbledown I enjoyed, and mostly the many portraits of individuals in the rehabilitation center that is the setting of the novel as individuals worthy of consideration and with interesting lives, including inner lives, despite their various handicaps and limitations — although, to be sure, some of them seem to just happen to be patient and seem rather better functioning than some of the therapists. There is also a clever double ending that I did not particularly believe or enjoy, but is undoubtedly clever.

Unfortunately, the vignettes of the characters seem to juxtapose without ever coalescing into a cohesive whole, and the lives of the therapists, starting with the flawed hero and would-be director of the center, seem to be remarkably empty and aimless, and consist mostly of short relationships devoid of meaning. Perhaps a more patient reader would be able to tolerate the senseless bar-cruising action that gets in the way of the deeper anecdotes?

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