The Shock of the Fall

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

Nathan writes with a keen sense of observation, that make a person, a situation, an emotion, real. He manages to focus on the tiny details, both internal and external, that often seem inconsequential but become an important part of the experiencing of the character. At the beginning of the story our protagonist ends up on the ground with a girl he has just met, falling on top of her while reaching out to comfort her. He describes her turning her head and one of her hairs trailing across his lips and tongue. It is that kind of simplicity that puts flesh on the bones of the people in the story.

The writing is both delicate and substantial; putting things very simply at times, yet very powerfully. His sensitivity in describing mental illness shines through and, by the time I was most of the way through the book, I felt I had some understanding of what the central character was experiencing.

This felt like a story written from the heart. The author used to be a mental health nurse and manages to put across some very poignant points about the treatment of people with mental illness. He describes the hospital ward office and all the mugs, clocks, mouse mats, and pens that are adorned with the names of the medication the patients hate. Drug reps may have a job to do but it implies an insensitivity on the part of hospital staff that they allow the clinical aspect to creep insidiously into the treatment place. Patients have enough to remind them of their illness without emblazoning the day-to-day and the ordinary with more reminders.

I started this book mid-morning and couldn’t put it down. I had to stop to do other things otherwise I might have read it all in one go. As it is I picked it up the following day and finished it in one more sitting – in tears by the end.

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