Firstly, apologies for the title of this review. Don’t blame me, I didn’t invent pun culture.
I read The Shock of The Fall on the back of it winning the 2014 Costa Award, I guess like many others. I’m sometimes left a little disappointed after reading a book that’s won an award. They can remind me of that moment when I was twelve and I ordered a pair of X-Ray specs from a magazine, and received back in the post a glob of bulky plastic that did nothing except introduce disappointment to childhood. And a sliced eyeball. Fortunately, this sadness was later replaced with the joy of Sea Monkeys actually being things that grow, so I’m glad to say I am over it, even if the memories do sometimes creep back over me as I write Amazon reviews.
Memories are kind of what The Shock of The Fall is about. Fractions and shards, bits and pieces, a man writing down and pulling together glimpses of who he once was, under the weight of who he could have been. A clearer life, through a painful mist.
I don’t think I can say much specifically about the content of the book without giving anything away, only that the main character Matthew has schizophrenia and is dealing with an incident from his childhood that follows him around and wants to play with him. The book feels like it’s written by Matthew, you can see him with his typewriter on his legs, smoking his cigarettes, struggling to cope with the world he has left.
One of the beautiful things about this book, is that the main character Matthew is coping with mental illness, but it’s the world around him that seems, at times, to be suffering from a greater sickness.
The Shock of the Fall offers a true insight into the life of different mind. There are times when reading the book gives a sense of crawling into a dark place, and trying to make sense of the light. And there is humour, so don’t think this book simply dark; it is funny at times, and almost full of light everywhere you look. If you want to see it. The book is beautifully understated. All we need is a plastic chair, a conversation and a badly cut sandwich, and life can begin again.
Lastly, to finish this review where it began, this book is a worthy winner of the Costa Book Award, and because of The Shock of the Fall, I will be reading more of Nathan Filer’s work, and I will also be seeking out past and future winners of the Costa Book Award.
Here’s the UK Amazon link if you fancy giving it a try. You should.