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Falling Sideways
Cover of Falling Sideways
Falling Sideways
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There has never been any shortage of business at the Tank, a high-profile firm in Copenhagen. There are round-tablemeetings to attend, circular memos to write, colleagues to indirectly undermine. But when the Tank's nefarious CEO announces a period of downsizing, everyone is exposed and the game-playing begins in deadly earnest. Top executive Frederick Breathwaite suspects his days might be numbered, and is frantically trying to ensure a foothold on the career ladder for his son Jes. Harald Jaeger, estranged from his wife and daughters, harbours desperate passions for an alarming number of women (including, dangerously, the Tank's married financial officer). Lost in his amorous fantasies, he has somehow managed to catch the CEO's eye - as a possible replacement for Breathwaite. Meanwhile the CEO's son Adam should be following in his father's alpha-male footsteps but instead is head-over-heels in puppy love with his au pair. And in a nearby shoe repair shop, Jes, who personally can't imagine anything worse than his father's corporate life, is pursuing a very different kind of future. As the city settles into autumn,a season of brittle days and foreboding nights, the impending downsizing causes a ripple effect that touches not just every employee in the Tank but their spouses, children and lovers as well. Sharp, funny but remarkably tender, Falling Sideways is a shrewdly observed tale of ambition and anxiety, of backstabbing and backsliding, of office politics and family affairs.

There has never been any shortage of business at the Tank, a high-profile firm in Copenhagen. There are round-tablemeetings to attend, circular memos to write, colleagues to indirectly undermine. But when the Tank's nefarious CEO announces a period of downsizing, everyone is exposed and the game-playing begins in deadly earnest. Top executive Frederick Breathwaite suspects his days might be numbered, and is frantically trying to ensure a foothold on the career ladder for his son Jes. Harald Jaeger, estranged from his wife and daughters, harbours desperate passions for an alarming number of women (including, dangerously, the Tank's married financial officer). Lost in his amorous fantasies, he has somehow managed to catch the CEO's eye - as a possible replacement for Breathwaite. Meanwhile the CEO's son Adam should be following in his father's alpha-male footsteps but instead is head-over-heels in puppy love with his au pair. And in a nearby shoe repair shop, Jes, who personally can't imagine anything worse than his father's corporate life, is pursuing a very different kind of future. As the city settles into autumn,a season of brittle days and foreboding nights, the impending downsizing causes a ripple effect that touches not just every employee in the Tank but their spouses, children and lovers as well. Sharp, funny but remarkably tender, Falling Sideways is a shrewdly observed tale of ambition and anxiety, of backstabbing and backsliding, of office politics and family affairs.

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About the Author-
  • Thomas E. Kennedy's many books include novels, story and essay collections, literary criticism, translations and anthologies. He teaches in the MFA programme at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Beneath the Neon Egg is the final book in his Copenhagen Quartet, following In the Company of Angels, Falling Sideways and Kerrigan in Copenhagen. The multiple awards he has received for his writing include an O. Henry Award, two Pushcart Prizes, an American National Magazine Award and many translation grants from the Danish Arts Council. Born and raised in New York, he lives in Copenhagen with his two children.

    www.copenhagenquartet.com
    www.thomasekennedy.com
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 8, 2010
    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.

  • Alain de Botton Falling Sideways is the finest novel I have read in many years. Thomas Kennedy is a true discovery, an author of rare intelligence and moral vision. Not least, the book is immensely compelling and beautifully written
  • Financial Times Kennedy gives us the complacency, the envy, the flirtations and the sycophantic laughter that will be familiar to anyone who has worked beneath strip-lighting ... This is a small novel in a minor key, as nimble and intimate as a piece of chamber music. But when it does reach outside the immediate world of Copenhagen, it touches on the contemporary moment with a deft precision. The fear of losing one's job, the rejection of the corporate world by the young and the treatment of immigrants by different generations are all of the utmost timeliness
  • Washington Post 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
  • Minneapolis Star-Tribune 'Thomas has an ear and eye for modern life. He knows how neighborhoods gentrify, how kids stay in lousy apartments for "street cred"; he knows how women long for children after their career has used up the time of their unquestioned fertility, and most of all he knows Copenhagen'
  • Independent As he slots together his narratives with masterly elegance, an intimate picture of local life is set before us ... Kennedy's finely calibrated observations make his cast eminently believable
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Thomas E. Kennedy
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