Fishbowl, by Bradley Somer (2015)

Contemporary Fiction
Fishbowl, by Bradley SomerIan is a goldfish longing for adventure. Life in a fishbowl can be tedious, after all, though Ian’s very poor memory and tiny brain relieve him of the burden of knowing just how boring his life is. But when opportunity presents, he makes a great leap out of the bowl. Over the balcony railing. And down the side of a 27-storey New York City apartment building. As he plunges toward the pavement, where the flashing lights of two ambulances are silently screaming an alarm, his gills forced closed as his velocity increases, Ian flashes past the windows of his fellow residents. And thus we are introduced to eight delightful characters – Connor and his girlfriend Katie as well as his mistress Faye; homeschooled Herman who lives with his Grandpa and also travels through time; Jimenez the lonely super; agoraphobic Claire; Garth the construction worker with a secret; and my favourite character of all, the very pregnant Petunia Delilah who is dying for the forbidden sweetness of an ice cream sandwich. We learn Ian’s fall takes 4 seconds, but the story spans just a little more, about 30 minutes, allowing the reader to discover the life-changing moments of each character that share this brief window of time. It’s a clever device, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all of these New Yorkers. Somer is unflinching in his discussion of their lives – the language is occasionally coarse and he doesn’t shy away from graphic descriptions of sexual encounters. An afterword reveals the genesis of the book is a short story published in 2013. I’m very glad Somer, who lives in Calgary, was inspired to develop it into a full novel. I loved it.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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