The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’ – Blurb
If the Blurb doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what would.
Lecturing in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, with a degree in Mental Health, Nathan Filer’s first book The Shock of the Fall, is a beautifully written story about Matthew Homes, a man plagued by the loss of his older brother, Simon, when they were kids.
If you only take a few things from this, please let it be this:
- The book is amazing. Read it, don’t put it down for too long or else (I’ve warned you).
- It’s such an enlightening take on mental illnesses.
- Can you trust Matthew Homes?
The story delves into Matthew and Simon’s mental illnesses – Simon had Down syndrome whilst Matthew had Schizophrenia – and how the death of a loved one has affected the lives of the characters in the story.
‘…the thing you need to know about Simon is that he was a bit different from most people you might meet.’
For all the characters in The Shock of the Fall, loss is what ties them together. The reader sees the unravelling of lives after a death in the family; how characters had struggled to cope and what it meant for them moving on, was an important theme for the story.
The Shock of the Fall is told through Matthew’s typewritten accounts of his memories via recollections, letters, pictures and other scribblings, adding a sense of disorder to the events much like the disorder felt when someone close to you passes away.
There’s no order to the memories, flashbacks and future events are put side by side so I would advise anyone who plans on reading this book to NOT put it back on your bookshelf and leave it for a week (like a certain someone did) because it’s a lot of story to take in and quite a bit to remember.
‘And there was something else, something else, hidden in a cloud of smoke.’
I wish I could give you more quotes but I want the story to be a surprise!
My main reasons why I love Filer’s novel as much as I do is because of how enlightening it is. To take such a sensitive subject and write about it the way he does is remarkable. He gives such an unbiased, stereotype-free view of mental illness and what it can be like for those that live with it. A show of humans and human nature exposed without shame or disrespect.
I have laughed, cried, been angered, confused, frustrated and proud, unlike any other book I have read before (Nathan may have ruined any other book I read for now in both a good and bad way). Now that I have finished this meaty book I’m still piecing together all the fragmented events and everything is coming together and I am smiling as everything finally clicks in place.
I’m not even sure I’m making sense anymore but that is what this book has done to me. I still have so many questions but one thing is definitely clear: The Shock of the Fall is as much about dealing with mental illness and loss, as it is about love and the good that can come from a grieving.
You can buy the book here. Enjoy!