Joint Review of “The Shock of The Fall” by Nathan Filer

shockof the fallUrania: **This book is marketed under the name “Where The Moon Isn’t” in the United States**….I read the UK edition and think the UK title is much better suited for the novel….

Pegasus: Yes, I agree, the US title should have remained the same as the UK title. There are a couple of references throughout the novel that allows the US title to make sense, but really, the UK title is more suited in more ways than one.

Urania: Okay, we’ve all read books that were kinda sad….No big deal, right?

Pegasus: Call me what you will, but I actually consider it a challenge to find a “sad” book that won’t have my eyes rolling.

Urania: *Snort* I would have never thought eye rolling and Pegasus ever went together….just saying….

Urania: Well, this was a book that killed you slowly. You’re halfway through with it and put it down and shake your head….you suddenly feel like a heavy cloud is over your head…it was a slow build up of sadness….there are times you are laughing out loud…and whilst you’re reading it, you don’t really feel like it’s terribly sad… but Filer has a true gift of laying very thin layers of sadness upon you until finally you’re completely bogged down under an extremely heavy blanket of depression. By the time I got to 2/3rds of this book, I found it difficult to read more than a dozen pages at a time before having to lay the book down….the weight of it was so great….

Pegasus: I also felt the paradoxical mix of comedy and melancholy; Filer presents his story in an ultra-realistic way, and so the reader gets to experience the true form of emotions – the wave- the crest, the trough, and the in between. I read this book in one sitting, and it definitely felt that someone had sucked all the air and energy out from you, but at the same time, it wasn’t just a 1 dimensional feeling of depression – you (or at least I did) felt layers of emotion that peel away slowly as you digest what you just read.

Urania: When I started this book, I wasn’t at all sure about it. It was the Costa Book of The Year and it wasn’t that famous of a book. I wanted to read it before it became totally famous. I wanted to be one of the first to read it before it just took off and all the talk biased me against it.

Pegasus: I read about this book in an article, and was drawn to it as it got a lot of praise. I immediately purchased it and began to read. Then, what I like to call, the Million Little Pieces effect, came through. For those of you that remember, A Million Little Pieces was published around 10 years ago. It was touted as a genuine and raw memoir of addiction. It turned out to be not as genuine as it was let on to be. I felt cheated and it put me off reading memoirs or stories about addiction, mental illness etc… Anyway, I returned the book. A few weeks later, Urania told me that she picked up this book and wanted to do a joint review. So I decided to give it another chance, before it became a huge hit. Best decision of my life.

Urania: See….you should listen to me more often….no really….you should….I keep telling you this, Pegasus….

Urania: As I started this book, I found it a difficult book to get into. It’s written in the main character’s voice. It’s difficult to follow at first because the main character, Matt, is mentally ill. He starts his story at the age of 9. His current age is 19. The book mainly focuses on flashbacks to, of course, 9, when a family tragedy occurs. Most of the other story takes place when he is 17-18. It’s hard to follow because….well…..Matt is slowly spiraling down the staircase of mental illness.

Pegasus: A good adverb to describe the reading of this novel is exhausting. I use this word in a good way. When reading, we, like Matt, are all over the place, and the pace, and indeed sometimes the font, reflects this. There was no real transition points – in one page you’ll be reading about a memory he had when he was 9 and the next he’ll be waking up from a drug induced sleep ten years later. It’s hard to discern what truth is, what is clear and what we should believe… Much like how Matt feels. Again though, this is a true credit to Filer’s writing.

Urania: When the writing finally *clicked* for me, well…that’s when I realised that I was enveloped in this massive cloud of sadness. But it wasn’t just depression. It wasn’t all doom and gloom…..it was so depressing because Matt is so utterly, heartbreaking beautiful. His love is so pure. Even though he can’t express everything he is feeling….well, his actions and what he does say….well, it just fucking broke my heart.

Pegasus: That’s the thing – Matt wasn’t just this crazy schizophrenic that many stories portray, nor was he totally unaware of his actions and what effect they have on people. Throughout, Matt constantly struggles with what is expected of him, what he thinks he is to do, and what other people interpret his actions as. Don’t get me wrong, Matt certainly has issues and he would not be an easy person to live with – in fact, some of the things he does are downright horrible, but where there is hell, there is beauty.

Urania: This….this is a book that just moved me. I loved it. I loved Matt. I felt his hopelessness but, at the same time, I felt nothing but hope. I understood his frustration. I understood his reasoning. Even though we all know that the things he came to believe…well, they are impossible….but damn it all…..who doesn’t want to believe in something such as that? I understood why he both loved and hated his illness. I understand why he fought it…and why he didn’t. This book carved a chunk of my heart out. I like to think that Filer replaced the missing chunk with hope and understanding….but I’m just not sure….I’m just not sure that I’m a better person now that I finished this book….I just hope I am….

Pegasus: I really don’t think there was a flat character in this story. They were ordinary, yes, but certainly no “filler” characters. I think that’s what I loved most about this novel – its ordinariness. It is so ordinary, that it feels real, and you can definitely imagine it happening somewhere near you. Just the little details, like the ritual watching of Eastenders (I even remember the story line that he references) is completely familiar to me, that it made the situation more acceptable, and actually more scary because it was transcending the boundaries that so many of us familiar with.
This book really does take a lot out of you, but perhaps that is a good thing. Maybe we need to go back to basics and understand that mental illness can and does happen to anyone, no matter how “ordinary” you are. I think that Filer has left us with hope. I used the wave analogy earlier on, but it is true when they say you have to get worse in order to get better. Life is wave, we have to go down in order to go up, and vice versa.

Urania: I am so glad I read this one….I hope our readers will too…..

Pegasus: Really cannot recommend this enough… 5 Stars.

Urania: Thanks for doing a joint review with me, Pegasus….next time I might even let you pick out the book…xxx
Pegasus: It wasn’t too painful I suppose! I get to pick next time? This could be fun!

Until next time…..

Pegasus and Urania

Buy it now Where the Moon Isn’t/The Shock of The Fall

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