BookBrowse Reviews Fishbowl by Bradley Somer

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Fishbowl

A Novel

by Bradley Somer

Fishbowl by Bradley Somer X
Fishbowl by Bradley Somer
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2015, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2016, 304 pages

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The residents of one city apartment building form a satisfying glimpse into the microcosm of humanity in this story told from an unusual perspective.

The reviews have been going swimmingly for Bradley Somer's Fishbowl with a whopping 23 out of the 25 giving the novel 4 or 5 stars. With 16 five-star reviews, this book is sure making a big splash.

Fish eyes
Fishbowl looks at our everyday world through the eyes of Ian, a goldfish, who has fallen out of his window. He views the everyday lives of the extraordinarily ordinary people as he passes by their windows. Just up the street is a construction site advertising "The Future Home" of 180 luxury suites with silhouette people depicted. What would Ian see as he passed by these windows? Bradley Somer creates a feeling of nostalgia by looking at an old, much-used building/life and contrasting it against a new, sterile one (Charlene M).

Fishbowl is cleverly written about a goldfish's journey that actually became a journey of the tenants as well. I found myself intrigued about what was going to happen to each of these characters as the story progressed (Cheryl P).

Dives into quirky asides
This story's creativity reminds me of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, also a good read. If you enjoy stories that are a bit off-kilter, but with memorable characters, then give this book a shot; you'll be pleasantly surprised (Daniel A). I loved Somer's mind wandering to things like the amino acids of DNA and the concept of terminal velocity in Ian's descent (Katherine P).

This is not a spoiler alert: Pay attention to the squiggly image of Ian on the right-hand side of the pages, and then flip through the book (Marianne D). I love, love the flip book! What a treasure of a story plus a cool little Ian on each page! (Missie S).

Life in a fishbowl
The novel is able to explore the profundities of the human condition, yet the author does so in a witty and, at times, even comical manner. By delineating the lives of diverse residents of an apartment building, Somer describes each individual's concern with loneliness. Despite the residents' seeming initial anonymity, they ultimately find the beauty of interconnections with others. I became totally caught up in the situations of the many characters and their predicaments (Leslie G).

Poignant, funny, lovely and sad - all the secret lives we live and try to hide in the boxes we inhabit are laid bare but in such a tender and reverent way. Individual stories are woven together masterfully into a storyline that makes sense, leads to a logical culmination and neatly mirrors how our own closely-knit communities are intertwined (Laurin B).

Occasionally murky waters
Usually engrossed in a good book, I found my mind wandering and having to bring it back to the page at hand. Wordiness perhaps? Characters too isolated and offbeat? (Molly K)

It's golden
The writing is amazing – prose that is imaginative and awe-inspiring and similes so fresh they jump off the page. I underlined passages and made so many notations that my pencil ran out of lead! Treat yourself to a one-of-a-kind experience in reading. It's many pluses beyond five stars (Beth B).

The character development was skillfully executed, running the gamut from somewhat pathetic to cheerfully happy, occasionally bringing the reader to the point of sadness, then on to laugh-out-loud moments. It all made me wonder about my own neighborhood where you see folks going to work, coming home, never really knowing each other except for an occasional wave (Elinor M).

This review was originally published in July 2015, and has been updated for the November 2016 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  Ancient Apartment Buildings

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