You Review: The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

Reviewed by David Swatling

“I am writing myself into my own story, and I am telling it from within.” Here’s the deal. Matthew Homes is 19 and schizophrenic. He’ll tell you that himself. He’ll also tell you right from the start that his brother Simon is dead. No spoiler alert. Something bad happened, and one thing led to another. To find out what, best to read it in his words. They make up this book called The Shock of the Fall. The name on the cover says Nathan Filer. He never wrote a book before and he didn’t write this one. Matthew did. But this Nathan guy gets the credit. What’s up with that?

“There are moments that make the dot-to-dot pictures of our past; everything else is simply filling in the gaps.” Matthew’s story doesn’t go from A to Z. It skips around – a lot. Some parts are written on a computer, some parts on an old typewriter his grandmother gave him. There are letters, reports, and other stuff too difficult to explain. Also, repetitions, definitions, random facts and fictions. Stuff of dreams and mental illness. And repetitions.

“It’s like pulling off a plaster.” Nathan Filer: mental care nurse and performance poet. Matthew Homes: mental case and – what? Remains to be seen. What they have in common is a cunning way with words.

“This story doesn’t have an end. Not really.” One more thing. Books get labels so people know what they’re reading – like Young Adult or Literary Fiction. Somebody made up one that’s in-between for books like this one: New Adult. Holden Caulfield will be well and truly pissed off if Catcher in the Rye gets called a New Adult book. Good books are for everybody. Like Matthew’s book.

“…because dead people still have birthdays, don’t they?” A footnote: Nathan Filer met Dutch animator Udo Prinsen in Berlin in 2005. Without knowing this, Dutch publisher Ambo Anthos commissioned Udo to make a trailer for the Dutch translation of The Shock of the Fall. It’s called Side Effects. If this review doesn’t convince you to read the book, this beautiful little film might.

Nathan Filer will be in The Hague on June 13th as a guest of Borderkitchen.

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