Christmas Challenge 8 – A Prize Winning Book: The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer


‘I do not have a split mind. I am not different people. I am myself, the same self I have always been, the one person I can never escape.’

The book is narrated by Matt, a schizophrenic struggling with his illness, the care system and life after his brother died when they were children. It follows his descent into mental illness and the effects not only upon Matt, but the people around him. I like how the book changes typefaces demonstrating Matt’s attempt at writing therapy using a typewriter and is filled with drawings, and notes reflecting the fragility of his mental state.

There’s a lot of praise and hype surrounding the novel and I can see why. While I enjoyed the book, it was dark, funny, obsessive, it also wasn’t quite a five stars for me. I understood what the narrative was attempting to do, reflecting the downward spiral of the narrator as he deals with his schizophrenia. It mirrors nuances, pokes fun at perceptions and offers a bold viewpoint.

However as a reader I found the repetition tiresome at times and I found other parts slow moving. It was like the author was saying ‘Look here, do you see what I’ve done here? Now do you see?’ And I’m not the only one who felt a little frustrated with the drawn out parts, lots of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads express similar frustrations – some going as far to call it boring, but I don’t agree with that. There were also certain parts that were predictable, like the death of his brother. Matt blames himself, he has great guilt and tries to convince the reader that the death is his fault, however we later learn, it wasn’t. His brother fell and it was ‘The Shock of the Fall’ that killed him.

I enjoyed the ending very much. It was heartfelt, and it felt not like a resolution, but more like a step towards feeling better and managing his condition. It gave me, as a reader, a sense of closure, acceptance and love.


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