I said I recently started a new job working as an assistant to a literary agent and at the wonderful Goldsboro Books. This is both thrilling and exhausting. Being surrounded by all these books is becoming detrimental to my health – mental and physical. The late nights spent reading, unable to stop (because of enjoyment yet also the knowledge of the sheer volume that I need to get through) and then of course the decisions. So many options, all looking so good, which to go for?
This is what I pondered as I stared at the shelves, trying to decide on what my first purchase would be from the shop; what my premier signed first edition would be. I was a week into the job and of course by now had had a chance to become vaguely familiar with the array of titles on offer, but there was one that had kept catching my eye. Firstly it was the jacket. I picked it up for the first time, and I remember thinking what a nice cover it was. I moved the book and picked up the next as all I was doing was sending them out to lucky customers. Then I came across it again and just as before it stood out, so I opened it up to take a look at what lay inside. I’ll in fact write some of it here so maybe you’ll see what I mean:
There are books you can’t stop reading, which keep you up all night.
There are books which let us into the hidden parts of life and make them vividly real.
There are books which, because of the sheer skill with which every word is chosen, linger in your mind for days.
The Shock of the Fall is all of these books.
My point is, I was already hooked. It didn’t tell me anything. I was none the wiser as to what this book was about but I knew I had to read it. There were only blurbs on the back, three selected quotes with one thing in common – the word ‘Stunning.’ It was then that as I looked at those shelves and this memory came back that I knew of course it was what I needed to buy.
I started the book the next day (Saturday) and immediately it didn’t disappoint. I was hooked more still from the very first page. But, not being a massive book, I didn’t want to destroy it in a day or two as is so often the case with great books. I limited myself to the first 40 pages during that day. A day and 240 pages later on the Sunday I was done and it is absolutely brilliant. Recently I loved World War Z, I might have even said it was the best book I’d read recently and I don’t want to appear fickle, but this really was.
I was so absorbed in this book and it was so well written I just couldn’t put it down. It comes from the perspective of a highly unreliable narrator, who as the story develops, allows certain things about him to be known so that we realise he obviously has some kind of issues. I won’t say more other than it deals with mental health. That was what I loved, and in general do love in books, not knowing what was really going on, whether what the narrator was revealing to us was true or false. Him even saying that he couldn’t really remember just made it that more obvious that this whole story could be nothing like what we were being told. It all unfolds so cleverly, a testament to the amazing writing from debut author Nathan Filer, who I might add is obviously a very nice guy, mid way through I began to exchange a series of tweets with him about the book, and his recognition of the tweets and his replies showed a true appreciation of my comments.
As I’ve implied, the less you know the better. I never tried to find any of the story out before I read it and that was one of the reasons it was so bloody intriguing – not knowing the story. My only other research on it was a quick Amazon search which revealed a 5 star rating and of course was another reason why it was such an easy decision to make to buy it. Not a single part of this book disappointed me, I loved it all. It is such a cleverly written novel covering a sensitive subject. I’d be the first to admit I have a very limited knowledge on mental health problems but it feels so authentic; no doubt due to the fact the author is also a registered mental health nurse.
I am a huge fan of quirky and clever narrative voices. But I am also the first to admit that they don’t always work. This does. As the narrator writes in different moods this is transferred to the page giving it a stream of consciousness-like feel. Little touches like the font changing as he writes from different places give it that authenticity and make us really believe there is a guy sitting at a computer telling his story as he remembers it. It is funny, moving and so believable.
For once, the hype from the publisher really does live up to expectations with this book. I couldn’t recommend it more, it really is brilliant. I very much hope the author continues to write more of the sort as there is surely an exciting future ahead.
For fear of repeating the seemingly publisher chosen word to stand alongside the book – It is stunning.
Click here to buy a signed, lined, and dated first edition from Goldsboro Books