Following the death of his brother, The Shock of the Fall is an extraordinary insight into one man’s descent into mental illness. Depressing from all angles with a little humour and a whole lot of glum thrown in for good measure. If the issues of disabilities and depression weren’t enough to keep you going, you’re thrown into a dark circle of schizophrenia to really get your mind thoroughly exasperated when it came to the piecing together the troubled mind of the central character, Matt.
Beyond Tired Book Club Rating: 2/5
‘Really, Matt. You’re your own worst enemy.’
That’s a strange thing to say to someone with a serious mental health disease. Of course I’m my own worst enemy. That’s the whole problem.
The book reminded me of a jolly play I studied at university, 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane. She was an English playwright who suffered from severe depression. Kane sadly took her own life at twenty-eight before she completed her final haunting and eerie installment to her now celebrated works.
Truth From Fiction…Memory From Imagination
Those lessons were fun times as you can imagine. But The Shock of the Fall similarly demonstrates signs of erratic behaviour through the use of poetic free verse challenging readers to decipher together segments of Matt’s story and at times, depicting truth from fiction and memory from imagination.
Matt takes you on a jumbled version of events as his battles with his demons and struggles with his state of mind. A good note to point out here is that the book is written in fragmented parts which are reflected in the style of font used in the paperback version, but this hard to gauge when reading on an electronic device. Smug E-readers 1- Ye Olde’s 1.
“These are moments they call progress; something to write up in their notes. I know this because I observed. They observed me. And I observed them”
Surprisingly the reviews for this book are excellent. It’s been dubbed as one of those “books you can’t stop reading, which keep you up all night“. Er, perhaps we missed something here, as sadly this book didn’t sit well with our book club.
Intriguing and Cleverly Written Insight To Mental Health
Some were left too depressed or even nonplussed when it came to picking up the book to see how it would end for poor old Matt. Hardly a “keep you up all night” read at all. It was, however, an intriguing and cleverly written insight into the dark and lonely world of mental health, but this book wouldn’t fall under a good-holiday-pick-me-up read that’s for sure.
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer | Book Club Discussion Questions
- Discuss Matthew’s relationship with his parents. How does it change throughout the novel?
- Why does Matthew need to tell his story? Is the act of writing a cathartic process?
- How does Matthew portray life in the psychiatric ward? Were you shocked by any of the descriptions?
- What is Nanny Noo’s role in the novel?
- Discuss Matthew’s comment on page 275, “I guess there’s a use-by-date when it comes to blaming your parents for how messed up you are”.
- In Matthew’s invitation to Aaron and Jenny, he writes “I’m really sorry if I’ve got your name wrong. Part of me thinks it’s Gemma. Please forgive me if I got it wrong. Not making excuses, but I am a schizophrenic”. Is this an indication that Matthew has come to terms with his illness? Why doe he joke about it?
- Can you empathise with any of the characters?
- How did you find the narrative style? Did you follow Matthew’s ‘voice’or were there times it was confusing?
- How did the novel make you feel? Would you recommend it?
- Did you have much of an insight into schizophrenia before reading the novel? Has it made you want to find out more about mental illness?
More Beyond Tired Book Club Reviews can be found here.
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Disclosure: Book Blurb has been taken from the book itself and discussion questions were either sourced on the internet or kindly contributed by gorgeous members of the group. The opinions expressed are a collaboration of my own and a generalisation taken from the groups’ responses to the book.