The British Museum is falling down is a comic novel about one day in the life of Adam Appleby, a twenty-five graduate student who is working in the British Museum on a thesis about the structure of long sentences in modern English novels, where he can research in the books of the Reading Room.
He is married to Barbara and they had three children very early. Now he is terrified because his wife might be pregnant again, he doesn’t have a paid work and their flat isn’t large enough for their increasing family. Adam is also worried about his sex life: they are Catholic and because of that the only way to avoid a new pregnancy is having sexual intercourse in the “Safe Period”, which is calculated recording Barbara’s temperature each morning. However, they had proved that this method isn’t really safe. With such worries he can’t concentrate on his research.
This day many unexpected and strange circumstances happen to Adam. He doesn’t have any clean pants and he has to wear Barbara’s pants.
A doorkeeper asks for his annual Reading Room Ticket, it is out of date, the officers who are in charge of renewing it don’t understand Adam and he ends up fainting.
He feels the necessity of phoning his wife to know if she can confirm her possible pregnancy, some calls cross and confusion happens being Adam responsible for a firemen intervention in the British Museum because of a false fire alarm.
He receives a letter from a woman who has got some documents about the Catholic Egbert Merrymarsh that could be very valuable for his research, but he could only get them if he paid for them a sum of money he can’t afford. The woman’s virgin daughter gives Adam the manuscript and a kind of diary after she tries to seduce him.
He goes to a party and manages to speak with somebody close to the supervisor of the British Museum and convinces him to give Adam a job in the museum. Nevertheless, there is a misunderstanding and Adam loses the former opportunity. Them he stumbles and falls to the floor in front of every guest.
Finally his scooter catches fire with some of the documents which the virgin had given him. Suddenly an American man who Adam had met that morning appears offering to take him home and a job in a future museum he is going to set up.
The epilogue of the book consists of Barbara’s thoughts, written as a monologue in a long sentence, very difficult to understand from my point of view.
I think the novel is funny because of Adam’s frustration about his sex life and his religious devotion. It seems unlikely that there was someone with such bad luck in the same day. But it seems to be unfinished.