"Everybody, it seems, has to live in this tumbledown world, not just him. He isn't alone..." These thoughts, which occur to one of Robert Boswell's characters near the end of Tumbledown
, sum up its theme (or at least the experience of reading the book) well. The story manages to wrest a kind of hopefulness from what could, in other contexts or in other hands, be a pretty bleak setup for a novel.
' s central character is thirty-something James Candler. A counselor at Onyx Springs, a treatment facility outside San Diego, he's on the verge of a big administrative promotion. Candler has been groomed for this position almost since his arrival he now has the clothes, fancy car, and even the fiancée that, according to the outgoing director's definition of success, such a position requires.
No one's been watching Candler's rise as...
Beyond the Book
Part of what brings together the characters in Tumbledown
is their participation in a vocational rehabilitation program—in this case, training in an assembly-line setup designed to teach them to work on an actual factory floor. As portrayed in the novel, this type of work not only offers patients (modest) financial compensation, it also prepares them for real life after rehab.
Vocational rehabilitation and/or training is part of the treatment program for many conditions; the state of Texas's Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services lists a wide variety of disabilities—ranging from mental illness to hearing impairment—for which vocational rehabilitation might be appropriate. Part of the impetus for such programs is the stated goal of many...