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A Short History of Falling Reviews

A Short History of Falling by Joe Hammond

A Short History of Falling

Everything I Observed About Love Whilst Dying

Joe Hammond

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Fourth Estate Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 2 Sep 2019
ISBN: 9780008339906

A Short History of Falling - like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and When Breath Becomes Air - is a searingly beautiful, profound and unforgettable memoir that finds light and even humour in the darkest of places.

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5 stars out of 5
Caroline Sanderson
7 Jun 2019

"this beautiful, devastating and stunningly written memoir"

t's something of a cliche to call memoirs about terminal illness life-affirming. But you will cherish everyone and everything you love, not to mention the capabilities of your own body, all the more dearly after reading this beautiful, devastating and stunningly written memoir by a man living with—and slowly dying from—motor neurone disease.

In 2018, Hammond wrote a memorable piece for the Guardian about the 33 birthday cards he was writing, to be given to his two sons each year after his death. It received a massive response. A Short History of Falling is his much more expansive account of what it feels like to confront the fact that your family will persist through time without you. Hammond takes us with him into uncharted territory as his body slowly disconnects from a mind that is still pin-sharp, demonstrating on each and every page his awe-inspiring mental ability to reach for the truest words with a precision that his physical self can no longer muster. My copy is full of pencil marks where I have underlined another searing sentence or gem of wisdom.

This is a book which shines with the clarity that comes with knowing that your days are numbered, and I think that the comparisons 4th Estate is drawing with The Diving Bell and When Breath Becomes Air are entirely justified.


4 stars out of 5
31 Aug 2019

"Playwright Joe Hammond’s poignant memoir of motor neurone disease grips Cathy Rentzenbrink"

Hammond can’t take the reader right up to his death, but he enables us to get our nose right up to the window, and his testimony deserves a place on the shelf next to When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Late Fragments by Kate Gross. The narrative closes in mid-March as Hammond sits in his wheelchair on the edge of a leafless wood looking at the moss and daffodils at the base of a giant ash tree. In the distance he sees a flash of Tom’s red T-shirt and the blue of Jimmy’s wellies. “Everything takes so long and is nearly gone, apart from the millions of moments remaining.”