Robert Boswell

Tumbledown - in paperback

Library Journal Review of Tumbledown

Library Journal

Boswell, Robert. Tumbledown. Graywolf. Aug. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9781555976491.

Set at a California counseling center and sheltered workshop, this story focuses on the emotionally disrupted lives of its large set of characters. Candler is a counselor in line for the center’s directorship but isn’t sure he wants the responsibility or even knows who he really is. Lise is a former patient of Candler’s, whose life was changed through a single counseling session and who believes she is in love with him. Highly intelligent and acutely troubled adolescent Maura is in love with teenage Mick, a schizophrenic struggling to get back to the life he knew before his illness. Toward the end of this brimming novel, Candler is reading an epic of “survival after the world has fallen apart…, a lively messy book, full of characters,” which is also an apt description of the novel in hand. 

VERDICT Recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a PEN West Award for Fiction, Boswell (The Century’s Son) crafts a compassionate, compelling, and ultimately affirming tale of “tumbledown” lives—the human struggle to find “some manner of accommodating the impossible.” Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/13.]—Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA