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review 2016-02-27 23:48
Light pleasant tale told through the eyes of a goldfish.
Fishbowl: A Novel - Bradley Somer

It's not exactly 'War and Peace' but it was a nice change of pace book that was mostly skimmable. As Ian the goldfish plunges to his almost certain death (really, a goldfish is going to survive a multi-floor fall?), we see the lives of some of the residents in the apartment building Ian passes as he falls.


There's the graduate student who realizes he loves his girlfriend but is cheating on her with two other women. The big burly construction worker who has been trying to admit something to himself. The building's super, who feels unappreciated and is stuck trying to fix the elevator. The pregnant woman who is due any day now and really wants some ice cream sandwiches. An agoraphobic woman who is forced out of her shell to help two people after she loses her phone sex call job. A home-schooled boy who frequently loses consciousness and thinks he travels through time.


While I normally can't stand multi-view books, the author made it work here because it was clear early on that Ian was our narrator (in a way) and that it was just a glimpse of these lives. Sure, these people may possibly know each other by sight, maybe a few by name. But it's a story is really a few threads and no artificial ties between them.


Overall it was an enjoyable read. It seemed like it could have been a lot shorter, especially as the author tends to talk about the pasts of these characters and what is happening in the present moment at the end of the chapter. Some of these backstories were more interesting: Garth the construction worker, Herman the home-schooled boy who lives with his grandpa, agoraphobic Claire, etc. Others, like grad student Connor and his mistress Faye were not so interesting. Personally I didn't think Faye needed to be characterized as a villain but that's a minor aside.


The book also wraps up predictably with a "happy" ending (not totally I'd say) for most (although it could arguably be seen as open-ended as well) that was a bit odd in places. I thought the author tried a little *too* hard to make it so for certain characters just so to keep everyone in the same building.


I'd argue the book was really a 2.5 star book in terms of the story's execution, but the story itself was charming. I couldn't help but think of Penelope Lively's 'How It All Began' as a matter of trying a bunch of people together in a sort of "butterfly effect." Lively's book did it better (I thought) but this was still a pleasant read overall.


Waited for my library to get it but I found it as a bargain book. That sounds about right but I'd recommend the library if you can.

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review 2016-01-08 18:25
Fishbowl: A Novel - Bradley Somer

As Ian, the goldfish plummets to the ground, I wanted a swimming pool, an ACME brand swimming pool to be precise to miraculous appears on the sidewalk below him and save him from a disastrous outcome.   I wanted a “that’s not all folks” at the end of this novel, as his journey has been incredible. I wanted to know more about the individuals whose lives he shared with me and I wanted more of Ian, for his insight was deeper than some individuals I know, who are not amphibians.  The story centers on a tall apartment complex, with individuals who reside inside it and a goldfish who longs for adventure. The stories of the individuals who reside inside their apartments are all unique, each of their lives are hidden behind their own doors, yet there something that ties them together in this structure on Roxy. Living on the balcony, Ian gets out of his bowl and starts his freefall decent outside the building. As Ian falls, he glimpse inside his neighbor’s apartments as he descents downward giving up readers short narrative accounts conveying what he perceives from their glass panes. I enjoyed his insight, his language and his view of life made me stop and contemplate, and it was funny to think that this was coming from a goldfish. As the stories of his neighbors are revealed, the diversity and the similarities of their lives made this book one that I truly enjoyed. I had a hard putting it down once I got involved in the activity of the building and the individuals who resided within. I found that when I first started this novel, it took a while for me to get into the groove of the writing style and the language but when I finally did, I loved it and I couldn’t put it down  The diversity of the characters and the way the book was put together was fantastic. I was really impressed with this novel.

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review 2015-08-04 00:46
Review: Fishbowl by Bradley Somer
Fishbowl - Bradley Somer

Published by: Ebury Press (6th August 2015)


ISBN: 978-0091956929


Source:  Review copy via publisher


Rating: 4.5*



Even a goldfish can dream of adventure…


From his enviable view from a balcony on the 27th floor of an apartment block, Ian the Goldfish has frequent – if fleeting – desires for a more exciting life. Until one day, a series of unfortunate events gives him an opportunity to escape…


Our story begins, however, with the human inhabitants of Ian’s building. There is the handsome student, his girlfriend, and his mistress; an agoraphobic sex worker, the invisible caretaker; the pregnant woman on bed rest; and the home-schooled boy, Herman, who thinks he can travel through time.


And as Ian tumbles perilously downwards, he will witness all their lives, loves, triumphs and disasters…


My review:

Fishbowl is truly an original novel and it had me hooked (pardon the fishy pun!) from the start. Ian the goldfish has a unique perspective on the inhabitants of the apartment block where his owner lives and this is told in an insightful and intriguing manner.

It's really difficult to discuss the finer points without giving too much away. This book seems to have very mixed reviews so far, but I'm a fan. 


I especially liked the flip book Ian on the pages and the bright orange hardback cover with the image of Ian, revealed by removing the dustjacket.


Thanks to Elaine at Ebury for sending me a review copy.

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text 2015-07-23 02:25
Reading progress update: I've read 171 out of 320 pages.
Fishbowl - Bradley Somer
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review 2015-07-13 18:03
Fishbowl: A Novel - Bradley Somer

A goldfish named Ian is falling from the 27th-floor balcony on which his fishbowl sits. He's longed for adventure, so when the opportunity arises, he escapes from his bowl, clears the balcony railing and finds himself airborne. Plummeting toward the street below, Ian witnesses the lives of the Seville on Roxy residents. Within the walls of the Seville are stories of love, new life, and death, of facing the ugly truth of who one has been and the beautiful truth of who one can become.


This book is phenomenal! I fell in love with this book when the author beautifully described the apartment building.  "Melvil Dewey, the patron saint of librarians, would cringe at the mere thought of trying to catalog the details of these one hundred and sixty-two compartments."


Fishbowl is quirky, clever, original, thought provoking, and was a delight to read. I highly recommend this book to be added to your To Read list - expected publish date is August 4, 2015.


I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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