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Falling Sideways: A Novel by Thomas E.…

Falling Sideways: A Novel (edition 2011)

by Thomas E. Kennedy

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5628210,933 (2.56)4
Title:Falling Sideways: A Novel
Authors:Thomas E. Kennedy
Info:Bloomsbury USA (2011), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Books of 2011, April 11, Early Reviewers

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Falling Sideways: A Novel by Thomas E. Kennedy



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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this through the Early Reviewers program. Goodness knows why. Perhaps because the marketers were trying to link it to the success of Then We Came to the End. But this has none of the humor of that book. Instead it's a list of characters defined by their minutely described possessions. And some truly bad prose:

"Thumb and finger in the handle holes of the little scissors, reverently recollecting the vision of Janne's perfect, pear-stemmed breasts and shy, bright smile, he inserted the pointy tips of the blades into his nostrils and snipped short the bristling red hairs, trimmed his blond mustache and its architectural extensions to the neat, square beard that framed his square, dimpled chin under the clear expanse beneath his full lower lip."

It's a joke. But not the funny kind. ( )
  literarysarah | Aug 9, 2013 |
In an elegant portrayal of generational conflict in a few select families, Thomas E. Kennedy focuses on the tortured internal dialogs of a few stressed individuals to exceptional effect in "Falling Sideways." Mr. Kennedy’s writing here is so forceful and affecting, I had despaired of any kind of heartening or life-affirming ending – but the ending surprised me quite a lot. It’s a fulfilling, lustrous conclusion to a book full of sad truths, all perfectly observed and rendered.

Fred Breathwaite, American expatriate, lives and works in Copenhagen, and frets about his 22 year-old son. He has a suddenly prickly relationship with the CEO of the think tank where he has worked for 27 years (the CEO being one of the most loathsome characters I have encountered in any recent fiction). Fred’s son Jes was blessed with a quick mind and has loads of potential, if only he would try to realize some of it. A second father-son narrative parallels that of the Breathwaites, this one containing the story of the loathsome CEO, Martin Kampman, and his son, Adam. Mr. Kennedy treats us to a high-relief contrast with these two stories, and they begin to intersect in the younger generation, with some very telling results. Other characters receive due exposure: the charlatan, skirt-chasing middle manager, the dignified, unbowed au pair girl, the lonely and lovely finance executive who has a brief fling.

None of these characters evokes our sympathy very much, and Mr. Kennedy shows us the fear and arrogance, and toadyism, and paranoia rampant in this modern corporate culture. The fraught internal dialogs power the narrative and Mr. Kennedy flashes his brilliance by so utterly changing the tone and process from one character to the next. This, and the surprising, almost deus ex machina-type ending make "Falling Sideways" a highly worthwhile read.

http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2013/07/falling-sideways-by-thomas-e-kennedy.... ( )
  LukeS | Jul 11, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I had a hard time getting through this one. It was billed as a satire, but I couldn't discern any humor, so perhaps my reading was ruined by an unreasonable expectation. There were many characters, all quite flawed so it was difficult to identify with anyone. The author was bewilderingly attentive to furniture and clothing designers, and personal grooming habits. Perhaps if I was more attuned to the significance of these allusions (I'm American, the author lives in and writes about Denmark), it may have had more impact. I give it two stars for the obvious care and talent that went into this work. ( )
  Queenofcups | Dec 17, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Couldn't really get into this book. Seemed dry and cold and without a deeper center to hold the interest. ( )
  knomad | Oct 31, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A Nominee for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award

While I do not consider myself a prude, I often find the descriptions of sex in novels to be awkward, misplaced, and unconvincing. Of course, I would rather find authors willing to mention these taboo subjects encountered in everyday life than having them merely avoiding it. But, it seems like authors tend to lean on shock value and graphic description instead of artful representation.

Humorously, Literary Review has hosted the Bad Sex in Fiction Award for the last twenty years. Highlighting the worst in sexual encounters, the award honors the misuse of sex in literary fiction.

Thomas Kennedy’s new work, Falling Sideways, ought to be the frontrunner for the 2011 Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Inserted in most chapters and shamelessly described, sex is the central narrative feature of the book.

The Tank

Set in Copenhagen, Denmark, Falling Sideways follows the lives of employees at the Tank, an ambiguously defined company that monetized some sort of intellectual property but is currently falling on hard times.

The actions of the company are, in fact, so pointless, that Jes, the son of one character, proclaims,

“It seemed to [Jes] that almost nobody in Denmark actually did anything anymore; they all just sat in offices sending e-mails to one another or went to meetings where they sat around a table and talked about the e-mails" (105).

Downsizing Brings Out the Worst in People

With an unstable economy, the Tank’s CEO, Martin Kampman (a calculated and unemotional individual), must reshuffle the organization, trim its fat, and promote efficiency.

These swirling rumors about downsizing make most employees work in fear; they release tension through various addictive tendencies such as smoking, drinking, and sex.

As an example of one addictive tendency, Kennedy writes,

“It seemed smoking was responsible for just about all the evils of the world now. It had gotten to be embarrassing even to buy cigarettes. Maybe they would pass a law that would require you to say to the shop clerk: I am an idiot. May I have a pack of Prince Silvers, please? And if you didn’t: Sorry, madam, but you didn’t say you were an idiot. The law requires…” (89).

>A Snooze in Copenhagen

Sadly, despite an intriguing premise behind the book, Kennedy’s prose and narrative structure are merely adequate. Of course, the previously mentioned insistence on bluntly depicting sex provides a hindrance to the storyline. But even more, Kennedy spends little time creating compelling characters.

Aside from the ease of reading the book, I found little enjoyment in reading it. Moreover, not many literary themes held my attention throughout the book.

In perhaps the only interesting twist, Kennedy has created a world of anxiety, depression, and regret in a setting well known as the happiest place on earth. Yet, such an observance only bolsters a book in conjunction with deeper characters and plotlines.

Despite being a frontrunner for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, I find little reason to recommend Falling Sideways.

Originally published at http://wherepenmeetspaper.blogspot.com ( )
  lemurfarmer | Jul 26, 2011 |
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Book was originally published in Ireland as Danish Fall. It has been retitled Falling Sideways for its US and UK publication by Bloomsbury.
Bluett's Blue Hours and Falling Sideways are not the same book. Falling Sideways was originally published in Ireland as Danish Fall. Please do not combine Bluett's Blue Hours with Falling Sideways.
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There seems to be no shortage of business at the Tank, a high-profile firm in Copenhagen. There are meetings to attend, memos to write, colleagues to undermine. But when the Tank's nefarious CEO announces a round of downsizing, everyone becomes exponentially more concerned about whatever it is they're doing. A satire of contemporary work culture, and the distorting effects it can have on our lives.… (more)

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