Robert Boswell

Tumbledown - in paperback

Bookseller Responses to Tumbledown

“Robert Boswell's novels are everything you were worried a book couldn't be anymore: patient, big-hearted, and crafted with masterly precision. Tumbledown follows the fortunes and fates of an enormous cast of characters, and Boswell manages to paint each of them—from the future director of a California rehabilitation center to the damaged men and women who inhabit it—with impressive fairness and remarkable detail. Tumbledown is one of my favorite books of 2013 so far.” —Danielle DuBois Dimond, Brazos Bookstore

“Tumbledown is a capacious novel, as big as life and twice as vigorous. It is populated with a large array of sharply etched characters whose lives crisscross and oscillate between intimacy and abandon, like the dramatis personae of a Robert Altman movie, as noted on the back cover. Boswell, whose gift it is to create convincing and full-blooded characters, and who is always a joy to read for shrewd readers who appreciate a novel’s depth and psychological underpinnings, and who wrote Mystery Ride, a flat-out perfect novel, is here again on top of his game. When he is, he’s one of the finest writers we have. Here his cast of characters revolves around Onyx Springs, a treatment center for the mildly crazy. Its main protagonist, counselor James Candler, is a beautifully flawed human who you’ll want to follow wherever his poor misbegotten heart takes him. But there are many other characters as appealing. In the swirling, kaleidoscopic narrative of Tumbledown, Boswell is able to depict how we bounce off each other, stick together or fly apart, how skewed love is, yet how important. He is also master here of illuminating ordinary lives, lives lit by the glow of a kitchen light, or by the clinical brightness of a psychiatric clinic. This is an extraordinary novel. At the end you may want to return to its world to revisit these characters and to savor again the author’s precise and elegant prose.”

—Corey Mesler, Burke’s Book Store

“How ironic that President Obama called for national awareness about mental health as I was reading this incredible novel by Robert Boswell which delves into the world of mental illness and psychotherapy. A world where the highest IQ might not belong to the doctor, and a world so rich that he chooses to describe it through simile upon simile. Why use one when four will paint a clearer picture?” —Beth Golay, Watermark Books & Café

“Robert Boswell possesses a sensitive, uncanny, startling gift for limning the collection of characters linked to the Onyx Springs Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Center. Even more surprising, yet ultimately logical, is the progression each (damaged) soul makes towards self-knowledge despite their individual limitations. Therapist James Candler holds the center even as he begins to lose what he thought was his own. A surprising story told in assured yet lively and unflinching prose.” Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen Bookstore

“The unraveling of mental-health counselor James Candler takes place in a southern California where it's not easy to tell the eccentrics from the ordinary people. This character-driven novel, reminiscent of an Altman film, is stunning. After reading it you'll see shades of Tumbledown everywhere you go.” —Aaron Rosenberg, Magers & Quinn Booksellers