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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.
As I get weaker, less a part of this world, or less a part of what I love, less a part of my family’s life, I can perceive its edges with fantastic clarity. I can lie against it, lolling my arm over the edge, running my fingers around the rim. And this is where I am.
In 2018, Joe Hammond, wrote a piece for the Guardian about the 33 birthday cards he was writing for his two sons. It was shared by thousands. In A Short History of Falling he tells the story behind that piece, about the experience of living with – and dying of – motor neurone disease (ALS).
A Short History of Falling is not a lament. It is a deeply imaginative meditation on what it feels like to confront the fact that your family will persist through time without you. It’s a book about love and about fatherhood. But it’s also an extraordinary kind of travel writing: an unblinking account of a journey into unlighted territory and of what it means to lose your body and your connections to the world one by one.
This astonishing, luminous book will truly change the way you see the world.
'A Short History of Falling is a beautifully written reminder that life can be tragic as well as full of joy' Christie Watson, bestselling author of The Language of Kindness
‘His voice is captivating, his observations are searing, and his book is a blessing. This book will inspire you even as it breaks your heart’ Kathryn Mannix, author of With the End in Mind
‘I loved this book, and read it in a day. It's surprising and uncommon and I don't think I'll ever forget it’ Sunjeev Sahota, author of The Year of the Runaways
‘It’s something of a cliché to call memoirs about a 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… Hammond takes us with him into unchartered territory as his body slowly disconnects from a mind that is still pin-sharp, demonstating on each page his awe-inspiring mental ability to reach for the truest words with a precision 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 that shines with the clarity that comes with knowing that your days are numbered, and I think the comparisions 4th Estate is drawing with The Diving Bell and When Breath Becomes Air are entirely justified’ Caroline Sanderson, Bookseller Book of the Month