Synopses & Reviews
Robert Boswell's first novel since Century's Son
showcases once again his “dazzling technical skill, intelligence and moral seriousness” (The New York Times Book Review
At age thirty-three, James Candler seems to be well on the road to success. He's in line for a big promotion at Onyx Springs, the treatment facility where he's a therapist. He has a fiancée, a sizable house, and a Porsche.
But... he's falling in love with another woman, he's underwater on his mortgage, and he's put his hapless best friend in charge of his signature therapeutic program. Even the GPS on his car can't seem to predict where he should turn next. And his clients are struggling in their own hilarious, heartbreaking ways to keep their lives on track. How can he help them if he can't help himself?
In Tumbledown, Robert Boswell presents a large, unforgettable cast of characters who are all failing and succeeding in various degrees to make sense of our often-irrational world. In a moving narrative twist, he boldly reckons with the extent to which tragedy can be undone, the impossible accommodated.
"This is a crowded, tender, and captivating novel, the experience of which brings to the fore how reading itself can replenish our love of the imperfect beauty of humanity. Boswell (The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards) spins an elaborate web of characters, and once the initial effort of keeping them straight subsides, the reward of knowing them is especially rich. Therapist James Candler works with young adults of various psychological diagnoses and mental limitations while struggling with his own life. Yet it is the constellation of people around him that makes the book's development so fascinating. When Lise was a client of James's, she was a stripper. Unbeknownst to James, when he moves to San Diego, Lise follows, reinventing herself with him in sight and hoping for love. Lise and James do eventually find something magnetic, though it's limited to the two weeks before James's fiancée will arrive, an urgency that increases the novel's pace. As James's clients try to keep their own hearts in check and James's indecision mounts, Boswell brilliantly cuts back to childhood and the revelation that James had an autistic big brother named Pook. These slow and precise memories hold everything else together, emphasizing the profound affection we can feel for even the most unreachable. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, InkWell Management." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Robert Boswell has always been an extremely appealing writer: uncommonly intuitive, a sparkling observer, graceful yet surprising sentence-to-sentence; and always in pursuit of important complexity in human behavior — a rare gift, which makes his writing increasingly essential." Richard Ford
"This is a crowded, tender, and captivating novel, the experience of which brings to the fore how reading itself can replenish our love of the imperfect beauty of humanity." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"If you read Tumbledown in public, beware: Boswell's story is barkingly, snort-spurtingly, people-give-you-looks funny. Yet its humor is the most generous kind, uncynical and unsentimental, and woven through an ensemble story so large-hearted it keeps bursting its narrative seams. The result is a brilliant, humane, engrossing argument for how infinitely whacked and contingent life can be, and therefore how desperately we need one another to survive. I finished it with a long contented sigh, thinking, this is why I love reading novels." David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
"[An] absorbing tale of modern chaos steeped in moral issues." Library Journal
"Boswell displays immense talent for characterization and observation....An impressive work." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Robert Boswell's previous books include The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards and Mystery Ride. He teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and in the Warren Wilson College MFA program.