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The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

The Shock of the Fall book. Credit: Daryl Eogan

In the Shock of the Fall author Nathan Filer creates Matthew Homes’ entire life in an interesting way. The story is told from Matthew’s perspective as he writes his thoughts an old typewriter while battling the flaws of the mental health system.

 

Mental illness can be a difficult journey in a person’s life, and Matthew Homes’ journey is no exception. The Shock of the Fall encapsulates the feeling of loss, how we deal with it and how the post-mourning stage can impact our health.

Matthew’s brother, Simon has a number of diseases and neurological problems. “Simon had hypotonia. He also had microgenia, macroglossia, epicanthic folds, an atrial septal defect and a beautiful smiling face that looked like the moon.” Matthew’s life is turned upside down as he deals with Simon’s death and the feeling of guilt. Simon eventually develops schizophrenia.

In the beginning, Matthew describes the day Simon died and the events leading up to his death. Readers are left wondering whether Matthew killed Simon as Matthew truly believes he did. It’s not only Matthew that is affected by Simon’s untimely death, his mother and father have to deal with Matthew’s deteriorating mind and the death of their eldest son.

Matthew’s ‘book’ has his own flair. The book features a variety of typefaces and the occasional illustration which delves into his schizophrenic nature and can fill an entire page at times. Each chapter is unique in its name, with such titles as ‘dead people still have birthdays’ and ‘is this question useful?’

Author Nathan Filer has his own experience with mental health. Filer, having worked as a psychiatric nurse, knows how flawed the system can be. Filer’s frustrations are conveyed through Matthew’s chaotic stay in an asylum, where most of the story is written. Filer’s feelings about the system provided for people with mental health issues are shown through Matthew’s eyes and thoughts, as the patients faceless people. Numbers without names.

This novel has a sense of sweetness spread throughout its pages, but the grittiness and cynical mind of Matthew shines through.

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