This is part of my Other Authors series, where I share dissociated voices written by a number of different novelists.
Today I’m sharing my thoughts on The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer.
Many sufferers of psychosis say they hear voices. It’s the most common auditory false perception experienced by those with schizophrenia. And there’s no better book to get a glimpse of this than in The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer.
The book’s protagonist, Matt, hears his brother’s voice – he “listened in the spaces between words” for him as well as looking for him in random places such as running water and spilt salt.
It is almost with contempt that he parrots the psychiatrist’s questions about his experiences – “do you hear it inside your head, or does it seem to come from the outside, and what exactly does it say, and does it tell you to do things or just comment on what you’re doing already” – due to the simplistic approach of their questioning.
Matt also suffers hallucinations, describing them as a breakdown between dreams and reality: “It’s like we each have a wall that separates our dreams from reality, but mine has cracks in it. The dreams can wriggle and squeeze their way through, until it’s hard to know the difference.”
Matt is someone who is losing touch with his sense of self, but desperately trying to hold on: “This body isn’t my own, it merges into the space around me so that I cannot feel where I end and the rest of the world begins.”
He even causes himself pain in order to hold on to what it feels like to be human: “I’ve stubbed a cigarette out on my forearm. That’s blistered too. I hoped the pain might keep me here, but I can’t grip the thread. Time falls through my fingers.”
Matt’s illness feels very much like a subplot to the book – and I’ve not said anything about the main storyline because it’s best find out as you read!