Book reviews: Novels take intriguing views of life
by Bradley Somer
In the opening pages of “Fishbowl.” we meet Ian, who has just embarked on the journey of his life. Unfortunately for Ian, his journey is a plunge from the 27th story balcony of his apartment in the Seville on Roxy. Ian, it turns out, is a goldfish, a gift from Katie to her boyfriend, Connor, which makes his journey no less ominous, but makes for an unusual and quirky perspective on the experience.
In the approximately four seconds it takes to reach his journey’s end, Ian introduces us to a group of the Seville’s residents, gives us glimpses into moments of their lives lived within the walls of the Seville and weaves stories that are sympathetic, funny and tense.
There’s the Super Jimenez, lonely and alone and preparing to fix the Seville’s broken elevator. There’s the young boy, Herman, living with his aging grandfather. There’s Petunia Delilah, who’s about to give birth, and Garth, who’s opening a very special package. And then, there are Connor and Katie, who are about to find love — maybe.
In “Fishbowl,” Somer has created a very clever novel. It’s a fast, immensely entertaining and surprising read.
by Eli Gottlieb
OK, it’s true; I have a special place in my heart for Eli Gottlieb, because he was the first author to visit Off the Beaten Path after its move to 9th Street in 2008. But that doesn’t get him a pass; he’s just a good writer, and “Best Boy” proves it.
In “Best Boy,” Gottlieb tells the story of Todd Aaron, a 50-something year-old autistic man who gets the name Best Boy, because that’s what he’s called by all the residents of Payton Living Center, the community where he’s lived the past 40 years.
Todd’s heightened sensitivity to all things is made livable by the peaceful routines of his life in the community. When these are disturbed by a new roommate and a new member of the Payton Living Center staff, Todd, who senses danger, must find a way to cope.
Told in the first person, “Best Boy” captures the emotions, perceptions and inner voice of this intelligent, generous autistic man. It’s a portrait worthy of the finest museum.
Ron Krall is co-owner of Off the Beaten Path.
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