Summary and book reviews of Fishbowl by Bradley Somer

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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Book Summary

At turns funny and heartbreaking, a goldfish names Ian escapes from his bowl and, plummeting toward the street below, witnesses the lives of the Seville on Roxy residents.

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.

There's the handsome grad student, his girlfriend, and the other woman; the construction worker who feels trapped by a secret; the building's super who feels invisible and alone; the pregnant woman on bed rest who craves a forbidden ice cream sandwich; the shut-in for whom dirty talk, and quiche, are a way of life; and home-schooled Herman, a boy who thinks he can travel through time. Though they share time and space, they have something even more important in common: each faces a decision that will affect the course of their lives. 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.

Sometimes taking a risk is the only way to move forward with our lives. As Ian the goldfish knows, "An entire life devoted to a fishbowl will make one die an old fish with not one adventure had."

1
In Which the Essence of Life and Everything Else Is Illuminated

There's a box that contains life and everything else.

This is not a figurative box of lore. It's not a box of paper sheets that have been captured, bound, and filled with the inkings of faith, chronicling the foibles and contradictions of the human species. It doesn't sport the musty smell of ancient wisdom and moldering paper. It isn't a microscopic box of C, G, A, or T, residing within cell walls and containing traces of everything that ever lived, from today back through the astral dust of the Big Bang itself to whatever existed before time began. It can't be spliced or recombined or subjected to therapy. It's not the work of any god or the evolution of Darwin. It's not a thousand other ideas, however concrete or abstract they may be, that could fill the pages of this book. It's not one of these things, but it's all of them combined and more.

Now we know what it isn'...

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About the Book

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 find s himself airborne. Plummeting toward the street below, Ian witnesses the lives of the Seville on Roxy residents. There's the handsome grad student, his girlfriend, and his mistress; the construction worker who feels trapped by a secret; the building's super who feels invisible and alone; the pregnant woman on bed rest who craves a forbidden ice cream sandwich; the shut-in for whom dirty talk, and quiche, are a way of life; and home-schooled Herman, a boy who thinks he can travel through time.

Though they share ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The character development is 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.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Somer has created well-developed characters and effectively transports the reader into their three-dimensional worlds. . . genuinely touching.

Author Blurb Tom Perrotta, author of the New York Times bestseller The Leftovers
An irrepressible novel--breezy, funny, sexy, and bursting with life. Bradley Somer has enormous affection and empathy for his cast of all-too-human characters (including the goldfish named Ian).

Author Blurb Laura McBride, author of the #1 Indie Next Pick We Are Called to Rise
Take the tumble with Ian. Perhaps like me you will fall, end over end, through these pages: expectant, engaged, enthused, curious, entranced, alarmed. Bradley Somer's captivating novel is a delight. I just loved it.

Author Blurb James Morrow, author of Gal├ípagos Regained
Fishbowl boasts an abundance of mordant whimsy fused to a bodhisattva's sensibility, as if the late Kurt Vonnegut Jr. had mysteriously found himself reincarnated as the fifteenth Dalai Lama and then continued to write epigrammatic novels.

Reader Reviews

Missie S. (Chilhowie, VA)

Fish Eye Lens
Ian will forever be one of my favorite characters! The list of eclectic tenants and peeking into their lives as Ian free falls is original and refreshing. It is entertainment with guilt free voyeurism. We learn so much about human nature and the ...   Read More

Barbara C. (Riverside, CA)

Loved the characters!
When I started reading, I could not see where we were going. However, I fell in love with all the characters. My kind of people. Even the off beat ones. The elevator also played a role. Ian (of the Goldfish Bowl) did his part. If you want to ...   Read More

Elinor M. (Roswell, NM)

Voyeurism at its Very Best
Bradley Somer's style in presenting the occupants of the Roxy Street apartment building, prior to and during Ian's airborne descent, was unique, giving birth to myriad stories of life. Feeling somewhat like a voyeur, one can't help but be caught up ...   Read More

Kristen H. (Hagerstown, MD)

Slow Fall
Excellent story! Very well written, loved how each chapter touched on the individuals in the building and then at the end they somewhat tied together. Didn't want it to end.

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Beyond the Book

Ancient Apartment Buildings

Fishbowl is set in a high-rise apartment building.

The contemporary apartment building has evolved over hundreds of years to its current avatar, sleek structures fashioned with high-tech materials and serviced by powerful elevators.

Roman Insulae It is believed that the first apartment buildings were built by the Romans two thousand years ago. These multi-story structures were called insulae (pronounced insul-eye) meaning islands, because they took up a lot of space equivalent to entire city blocks. These apartments were crafted from unforgiving materials such as timber and mud so fires and collapses were common. The rich continued to live in separate houses while the poor rented these apartment spaces from wealthy proprietors. Bottom floors ...

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