A NovelBook - 2015
From the critics
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Ian the goldfish has escaped his fishbowl; unfortunately the fishbowl was on the balcony of the 27th floor of the Seville on Roxy. Ian is free-falling, and while he falls he sees vignettes from the lives of those apartment dwellers whose windows he is passing.
The story moves between Ian’s short attention span and longer sections expanding on the lives of the characters. Connor Radley, Ian’s owner, is a bit of a cad – he and his multiple girlfriends interact while Ian plots his escape; Katie is his long-term girlfriend whose anger illuminates much of the story. Claire, an agoraphobic tenant, meets her pregnant neighbour Petunia Delilah for the first time as Petunia is knocking on doors looking for help when her labour comes on early; Garth, a construction worker, hurries home with a mysterious package, and encounters the overworked superintendent who is just trying to fix his sink. Ian’s fall only takes a minute, but while he falls a lot of stories are shared.
The tone is arch and quirky, with quick asides to the reader, and a stylized storytelling that reminded me somewhat of the omniscient narrator in tv shows such as Pushing Daisies. Somers doesn’t mock his characters, though – they are all drawn with affection, even when their own behaviour is perhaps not the kindest. If you’re in the mood for a modern, urban tale of unexpected connections and disconnections among a group of disparate neighbours, Fishbowl delivers.
Ian the goldfish’s continued recollection that he is falling, with his short fish memory reminding him regularly, is echoed with a charming touch: if you fan the pages like a flip book you can watch Ian travelling down the margins. Note: wait ‘til you’re finished reading to try the flip book or you may perhaps find a spoiler!
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