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The Shock of the Fall Paperback – 7 Jan 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The Borough Press (7 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000749145X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007491452
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,508 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nathan Filer is a writer and lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. He has worked as a researcher in the academic unit of psychiatry at the University of Bristol and as a mental health nurse on in-patient wards. He has written for television and radio. The Shock of the Fall is his first novel.

Product Description


‘Exceptionally moving without being sentimental – we're very much hoping there will be more from this writer… astonishingly sure-footed…’ Rose Tremain

‘A gripping, exhilarating read… passages that have a sort of simple poetry’ GUARDIAN

‘Authentic, funny and hauntingly sad’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘The simple prose is spot-on as the plain, honest voice of a teenager…smart eye for human foibles…a poignant, moving story that well deserves its Costa win’ INDEPENDENT

‘A stunning novel. Ambitious and exquisitely realised, it's by turns shocking, harrowing and heartrending. The writing is so accomplished it's hard to believe it's a debut – it's clearly the work of a major new talent' S J Watson

‘Nathan Filer is following in the footsteps of Mark Haddon’s genre-setting The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. Both funny and painful… you’re going to love it’ DAILY MAIL

‘Bittersweet and wonderfully etched…perceptive and moving’ DAILY TELEGRAPH

‘Utterly convincing… great craft’ EVENING STANDARD

‘A deeply moving (but also funny) first novel’ Kate Saunders THE TIMES

‘I found it dark, touching, sweet and funny and beautifully written…one of the best books about mental illness.’ Jo Brand

‘Poignant, funny and harrowing’ DAILY EXPRESS

‘A compelling story of grief, madness and loss. Filer has an ear for the dark comedy of life, and Matthew is a charismatic lead character who draws you in even as his world falls apart’

‘A tragic and comic account of living with schizophrenia. A must for fans of Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook’

‘A stunning debut – sad, poignant, real and very very readable. For a first time novelist, Filer has an impressive grasp of complex narrative, and a character we can all care about’ Stella Duffy, author of The Room of Lost Thing

‘A terrific debut: engaging, funny and inventive’ Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine

About the Author

Nathan Filer is a registered mental health nurse. He is also a performance poet, contributing regularly to literary events across the UK. His work has been broadcast on television and radio. The Shock of the Fall is his first novel.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Girl Who Loved To Read on 7 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sometimes things happen in our lives that change who were are and what we believe. Sometimes it’s wonderful things and you see yourself in a whole new light and the world seems a better place than it was before.
Sometimes things happen to us that shatter and divide our lives and nothing is ever the same. The person you are after bears little or no resemblance to who you are today.

“The Shock of the Fall” is all about those things. The ones that alter our lives in an instant, and leaves a completely new set of rules and a new identity behind when its over. We meet Matt who is in the middle of the most defining moment of his life and while he is telling us the story of what has happened in his past, he manages to draw us into the world that he inhabits today.

“I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.”

I first saw this book at a layover in a London airport and knew the second I saw that cover that I wanted to own and read it – and now that it’s on my shelf, I often find my eyes being drawn to its pretty spine and I’m very pleased that I took a chance on a book that I knew absolutely nothing about.

So, what is it about? Well, that’s a bit difficult to explain actually. It’s about family and loss and growing up and mental illness. Not in a “story of your life” sort of way, but rather running along all the strands that make up who we are and the people we love – our lives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER on 4 April 2014
Format: Paperback
Matt Homes is a young man from Bristol with schizophrenia, writing out his life story which centres around the death of his Downs Syndrome brother when they were children. As Matt's narrative progresses, we learn there's more to his brother's death than he initially lets on and that this is why he carries around feelings of guilt.

The Shock of the Fall is a character portrait rather than a narrative driven book - unfortunately, for a character piece, I never really felt like Matt had much of a well-defined character to start with; it's sketchy at best and oftentimes feels uneven. The best work Nathan Filer did with Matt was show how his brother's death devastated his life but how much of that life was due to that haunting event or his own schizophrenia is unclear.

I have no experience with schizophrenia so I can't say whether Matt's behaviour is realistic or not, or even when or how the illness manifests throughout the narrative, but I was never sure whether his actions were the result of personal trauma or mental illness.

What I mean is, was the point of the novel about a person coming to terms with a traumatic childhood experience or about someone dealing with mental illness, and if so, why have these two unconnected elements side by side - what's the reader supposed to focus on? I guess given the way the novel ended, it was about Matt coming to terms with his brother's death, but what that has to do with his schizophrenia is unclear. Did he even need to have schizophrenia? Maybe the hallucinatory sequences wouldn't have had as much weight if he did, but what a contrived reason to have that illness if that was the point!

It's an easy to follow narrative but a very dull one.
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183 of 204 people found the following review helpful By Welsh Annie TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When reading at the weekend, I have some rules - I can read before getting up, but must not sit down with it again until after lunch. With this wonderful book, I tore up the rulebook and read it in one glorious sitting.

I was absolutely fascinated by this story narrated by Matthew Homes, a teenager suffering with mental illness in the wake of the sudden death of his brother Simon. For a difficult read in terms of subject matter, this is an easy and flowing read - a strange comment maybe, with the fragmented time frame, the different typefaces, and the dips into and out of Matt's mental illness, but it was all accomplished so effortlessly. There are lovely touches of humour, acute observations about life and human behaviour, and a set of exceptionally well drawn subsidiary characters.

I particularly liked Matt's parents - the tableau presented of them sitting as a family watching Eastenders, the father's awkwardness with his "mon ami" greeting and secret handshake, and the mother's attempts at home schooling after Simon's death (where Matt was forced to make deliberate mistakes to get her attention). His grandmother, Nanny Noo, is also a wonderful creation - calling at Matt's every other Thursday, cooking pasta bake, smoking one of her menthol cigarettes from the kitchen drawer, and already familiar with mental illness elsewhere in the family. I also loved the use of letters - Denise's attempts to get Matt to attend his medical appointments, and particularly the wonderful invitations.

It's hard to believe this is a first novel, so accomplished is the writing - but from hearing the author interviewed on Simon Mayo's Book Club, I know this book was a long time in the conception and writing, and that he continues to work as a mental health nurse. An incredibly moving read, and very highly recommended.
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