Friday, May 20, 2011

Working Danes

The next time I read a Thomas Kennedy novel I want to be sitting in a café in Copenhagen. I'll pick up my book and follow the paths that his characters are traveling – over bridges, through parks, past sausage trucks, into apartments. That's how place-specific his novels feel, and it helps make the characters seem like flesh and blood people.

Last year I read the first book of his Copenhagen Quartet “In the Company of Angels” (A Difficult Subject), a love story which dealt with the serious subjects of torture and spousal abuse. Falling Sideways sets a lighter tone – it's essentially a workplace novel. All the main characters (helpfully listed at the start of the book, as if in a playbill) work at place called the Tank, or are connected to someone who does. Covering only a week, the book follows their lives inside and outside the office. Most effective for me were the plotlines concerning two different but equally troubled father/son relationships, whereas the women characters seemed to exist mostly to be hit by the fallout of the explosions in the male characters' lives. The tone is sometimes satirical and sometimes quite tender. The closest thing to a villain is the cold-hearted CEO, but most characters are flawed but sympathetic.

I have a soft spot for workplace novels; two of my favorites are “Then We Came to the End" (Office Life) by Johnathan Ferris and “The Imperfectionists” (Reporting From Rome) by Tom Rachman.

1 comment:

  1. In his fantastic and insightful book, On Writing, the prolific writer Stephen King once said: “People love to read about work. God knows why, but they do.”