Book review: “The heartbreaking sweetness of love, the rending hatred, the slippery lust, the sorrow of losing a family member , the pain of loneliness, all thoughts that were ever thought, every word ever said and even those that were not, the joys of birth and the sorrows of death and everything else will be experienced in this one vessel.”
That is what is says near the beginning of the book and in many ways this book does do that, although maybe not using every word ever said and maybe excluding some thoughts that were ever thought, yet the quote is not about the book (or is it?) but about the block of flats (or apartments as this is an American setting) where this story is set.
The story is essentially about a goldfish making a jump for it out of his fishbowl on his “little corner of the balcony” of a 27th floor apartment. After all “an entire life devoted to a fishbowl will make one die an old fish with not one adventure had.”
He then takes four seconds to descend but in those four seconds we learn about some of the residents’ lives within that block as he passes them by in the glint of eye. In many ways they are all living in their own fishbowls although some of their lives/fishbowls connect as the story gets told. And whilst this goes on the book also explores the idea of time, whether that be through Homeschooled Herman and his ability to time travel, or through the slow motion descent of the fish with its “stresses and terrors to last a lifetime”.
Through this method we get to see the different points of view of the separate characters, and get to hear the same stories from the different viewpoints.
Maybe at the end of the book you’ll want to know what happens next in some of the character stories, but the nature of this book is that it is only following the characters, and the lives they lead within their separate fishbowls, for a particular moment in time and therefore the stories are obviously going to be incomplete as it were. And is it not the sign of a good book that it makes you want more.
The only other thing to mention is that my version of the book came with an excellent cover and the pages formed a flipbook of a fish falling from the top of the book to the bottom. This fish aided me in working out my rough progress through the book at any one time and the cover was excellent because the “O” had a hole in it revealing the fish which then appeared beneath on a second cover where he is falling from his bowl. Therefore initial impressions are good just on flicking through the book too.
Amazon UK link: Fishbowl
Publication date: 6 August 2015