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Falling Sideways: A Novel Paperback – June 4, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608194426
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608194421
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.3 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,458,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The frustrating second installment to Kennedy's Copenhagen Quartet (after In the Company of Angels) spends a bitter autumn with several employees of the Tank, a downsizing Danish company whose business is a mystery even to some of its executives. Harald Jaeger, the book's most engaging character, is a bewildered womanizer whose villainous ex-wife absurdly accuses him of molesting their young daughters. Frederick Breathwaite, erudite, alcoholic, impotent, and suicidal, is a Tank higher-up, and accordingly gets canned. As part of his settlement, he negotiates a job for his bohemian son, Jes. All the Tank's workers are vulnerable to the axe wielded by CEO Martin Kampman, whose own rebellious son falls in love with the family's au pair and under the spell of Jes, whose supposed sense of humor and charisma don't exist on the page. We get some amusing observations of office culture, some tired riffs on, for instance, American profanity and antismoking rhetoric, and much sex and lust (and unfortunate prose thereof). Kennedy's descriptions of Copenhagen draw a pleasing map in the reader's mind, but his generational conflicts are familiar and his skein of thin story lines seems like a lot of too little. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Falling Sideways is that rarest of commodities in American literary fiction, a novel about men and women at work; it is part satire and part drama, and it is very smart.” —Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
 
“This second book in [Kennedy's] Copenhagen Quartet is probably... his most accessible... A clever spoof about work and the relationships formed there.”  Kirkus Reviews
 
“Balanced and true observations... [Kennedy] has an ear and eye for modern life.”  Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
"Thomas Kennedy’s beautifully written novel... asks the question of what exactly happens when comfort is replaced by confrontation, security by the scrambling for survival." —Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)

“Thomas E. Kennedy is an astonishment.”Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

"No one writes about the loves and lives of men better than Kennedy." —Kansas City Star
 
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hira N. Hasnain on April 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Author Thomas Kennedy in his first book, "Falling Sideways: A Novel" attempts a satire based in the workplace. The novel tells the story of Tank, which is the company that characters such as Fredrick Breathwaite, Martin Kampman and Harald Jaeger call their workplace.

We have Breathwaite, who is a high-ranking employee of the company, whose only dream and desire in life is to further the future of his son Jes, who happens to want no part of his father's dreams for him. On the other hand, we have Harald Jaeger, who is estranged from his wife and children, but despite his misgivings in his personal and love-life, he seems to be succeeding at Tank. And then, there's the cold, and hard-edged Martin Kampman, the CEO of the company who is down-sizing in order to keep Tank running efficiently.

Because it was written as a satire, Kennedy's characters are mostly dark. They are not very personable, and although some narrative comes from their friends and family, the reader rarely makes a connection at an emotional level. On a cerebral level, this book is definitely a cleverly penned novel. Ultimately, this book had a few key high-points, and a few low-points as well. I did enjoy reading it, however, so if you read the synopsis and find it to be to your liking, go for it. For me, it was a good book, highlighting interesting situations in the workplace, but not a memorable book that had characters with which I could connect.
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Format: Hardcover
In the second novel of the Copenhagen Quartet to be published in the US, American expatriate Thomas E. Kennedy shows his immense versatility, writing a totally different kind of novel from In The Company of Angels (2010), the first novel of the quartet. In The Company of Angels is a powerfully dramatic story of a man who suffered several years of torture under Gen. Augusto Pinochet in Chile before arriving, physically and emotionally ravaged, at a Copenhagen rehabilitation facility which treats victims of political torture. In this new novel, Kennedy provides a vision of a totally different side of Copenhagen in a totally different style of writing, broadening his overall themes and his depiction of this city. Here he focuses on the business world of one company, establishing a set of characters whose business and personal lives become so intertwined that the characters fail to grow or even recognize who they really are.

In fifty-three individual episodes, the most important main characters, who illustrate business stereotypes, gradually come to see the limitations of their lives, and some even prepare to make changes. Ultimately, these characters deal with the themes of love and death, freedom and confinement, and the worldly and the spiritual, though for several of them the emphasis here is primarily on the worldly. Copenhagen itself becomes the equivalent of a character here, too, as it continues to reveal itself ever more fully as a vibrant force, for better or worse, in the personal lives of its residents. Over the course of one week in autumn, three businessmen from "the Tank" and their families reveal their dependence upon their business environment--in addition to their own intellectual and spiritual ignorance and emotional vacuums.
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By Barbara Ames on April 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was a little difficult for me to get through in the first several chapters but it was so well written that I really couldn't put it down. It's always nice when love wins out in the end.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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