Robert Boswell

Tumbledown - in paperback

New York Times Newly Released Books reviews Tumbledown

TUMBLEDOWN in NYT Daily “Newly Released Books”
By Robert Boswell
429 pages. Graywolf Press. $26.

Strict lovers of plot may not fall for the ruminative sprawl in this latest novel by the underappreciated Robert Boswell, but most everyone else will find a deft twining of irony and insight on nearly every page. Set in and around a rehab and therapy center in Southern California, the novel follows James Candler, poised to become the head of this cuckoo’s nest, and his charges, including Mick and Karly, a sweet-natured schizophrenic and the young woman he loves. Mr. Boswell’s creations are aware of their limitations, in ways both existential — “How could she measure her progress when she didn’t know what it felt like to be anyone but herself?” — and humorous: “She was tall and substantial. Puny guys made her feel all Easter Island.” “Tumbledown” wryly mines the heartache in emotional disturbances, some present from birth and the rest brought on by the business of living.