Wednesday, 22 January 2014
180/111 - The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
I bought this book last week with my Christmas book voucher, along with a couple more that I'll be reading shortly. It seems to have stretched further than I expected because all of these books were on special offer, and I had some points collected and I had one of those Waterstones loyalty stamp cards which also gave me another tenner. Score.
The reason I bought this is that it won the Costa prize last week, and so I decided to jump on the bandwagon. I very nearly bought this from a bookshop in London when I saw it available in hardback over the summer. The cover alone was lovely enough that I thought I might like to read it, but I already had an armful of books and I could ill afford to carry another hardback home with me with the wonderful burden I already had. I still like the paperback cover I suppose, but it's not as majestic as the hardback cover, and the effect is a little spoiled with the big Costa prize sticker on the front.
I also wanted to read this after the grand claim from the judges that it's "so good as to make you a better person", or something similar. So naturally I had to get involved.
This story is told from the perspective of Matt following the accidental death of his older brother as he grows up. He struggles to come to terms with the loss of his brother, as do his parents, and he gradually becomes more and more unwell with schizophrenia. He gets pulled out of primary school and is kept at home with his depressed mother, and later when he returns to school he ends up dropping out of school and moving in with a friend and living in squalor. He then starts to get obsessed with atoms and the idea that memories are made of atoms, so if he outs together the right combination of atoms then he can bring back his brother. Really interesting idea. He eventually ends up in hospital and then runs away and then comes back again etc. I guess the idea is that his disjointed thinking is reflected in the telling of the story, which works really well. This is also achieved through the different mediums used, such as the letters, Matthew's own thoughts, his stories written on the computer and the typewriter.
Overall I really liked this, very touching in places like when you can see the sadness in Matthew's mother, and then thoughtful and funny in others, and a little dark and raw in others. Really enjoyable, and I would read more.
I also liked the sections the end of this book which has a little Q&A with the author, which I really liked. He comes across as really humble and likeable, and it was interested to learn that he is trained as a mental health nurse which gives some context to the subjects covered in the novel.