Critical Overview

Michael Thomas's first novel, Man Gone Down (2007) has received a lot of attention, if not from reviewers, at least from the general public. According to some online reviews, once readers get into the rhythm of Thomas's writing, this book is hard to put down.

That might be the reason that the New York Times Book Review named it one of the top ten books of the year. Although some critics have mentioned the difficulty in reading the book (Thomas uses an abbreviated form of stream-of-consciousness writing that jumps from subject to subject and in and out of different timeframes without giving much warning), most reviewers conclude that this author definitely knows how to write. Some reviewers believe the book is a bit too long and could use some editorial assistance and others have claimed that the narrator is too whiny in places along the way, but at its core, Man Gone Down is a book that is worthy of the attention it has received.

One of those critics who believe the novel worthy include Tina McElroy Ansa of the Washington Post who says, "It tends to leave the reader caring deeply about the narrator in one chapter and frustrated with him in the next. In the end, the novel itself is rather like its main character: a brilliant and frustrating social experiment that is still quite worthy of our attention."

Although Kaima L. Glover, writing for the New York Times, has some reservations with Thomas's novel, she writes: "[T]he scope of Thomas's project is prodigious, though, and the end result is an impressive success. He has an exceptional eye for detail, and the poetry of his descriptive digressions...provides some respite from the knowledge that the city he loves can truly crush a man's spirit."

Finally, in a brief but very appreciative and poetic review, Donna Seaman, writing for Booklist, praises Man Gone Down saying it is like "a rhapsodic and piercing...lament."