Friday, March 29, 2019

Review: "We All Sleep in the Same Room" by Paul Rome

The number of books that look and sound like American author Paul Rome’s debut novel We All Sleep in the Same Room is countless, so any writer wanting to approach a similar subject matter, that of an aging male, almost always white, seemingly successful on the outside but crumbling on the inside, his demons taking many forms such as drinking, infidelity and sometimes outward physical aggression, the writer must do something radically different to dispel any notions that they are barking up a tree that is already heavily populated. While this is not a terrible book: it has a few good scenes and characters that break through their built in stereotypes in surprising ways, there is nothing here I have not seen done before with more gravitas, more grandiosity and with tons more skill. Whether it deserves to or not, a book like this seems destined to be lost among identical titles. The aging white guy in this story of Tom Claughlin, a labor lawyer still trying to maintain the youthful, revolutionary enthusiasm for his job he’s held for decades, even in his 40’s. He has a pretty decent life in New York City with a loving wife Raina and a toddler son Ben. But a series of nightmares (all subtle and well written) based around the upcoming case of a fired Coney Island clinic receptionist and his dangerous flirtations with his young legal assistant Jessie bring forth a reckoning that has been building since Tom was a child. Nothing you see here is new, from the eventual romantic betrayal, to the crumbling marriage and Tom’s failure as a father: anyone whose read a lot can follow along in their sleep. What stands out are a few keys scenes, like one in a Central Park circus, another near the end at a gala celebrating the broken Tom and the strange final pages as well as his surprising characterization of Tom’s son, who in stories like these tends to become a periphery character, an empty symbol for the protagonists failure and impending doom. It is a bright spot in a book I can already feel slipping from my memory. 
Rating: 4/5

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