Eugene Egan reviews The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer.
Nathan Filer’s book The Shock of the Fall is a compelling tale about a young man’s descent into mental illness. Written in the first person narrative, through the eyes and voice of 19-year-old Matthew, it takes the reader through his journey from his brother’s death to his time in an acute psychiatric ward.
It’s an insightful and evocative read. We learn, for instance, of Matthew’s thoughts and feelings as the time approaches for his depot injection and the humiliation this practice entails for him.
Reading this strongly resonated with my own experiences of mental illness recalling when I was standing on the Itchen Bridge in Southampton contemplating suicide, as that bridge also had a notice and an intercom system for the Samaritans. I’m one of the lucky ones who not only survived but recovered. Many don’t.
Matthew is a tortured soul with a creative mind who’s never come to terms with his brother’s death, and who also has a turbulent relationship with his mother. Yet he finds solace in drawing and writing at the day centre where he goes to pass time when he’s not smoking weed or drinking alcohol.
A registered mental health nurse from Bristol, Nathan Filer is also a performance poet and The Shock of the Fall is his debut novel. It’s a stunning and impressive portrayal of mental illness. Filer’s prose engages the reader with his inventive and imaginative style of writing.
I found myself constantly returning to the book in order to find out what Matthew was up to and how he was doing. It’s a moving story and one that needs to be read.