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the Complete Review
the complete review - biographical

The Fall

Diogo Mainardi

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To purchase The Fall

Title: The Fall
Author: Diogo Mainardi
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 2012
Length: 166 pages
Original in: Portuguese
Availability: The Fall - US
The Fall - UK
The Fall - Canada
The Fall - India
La caduta - Italia
  • A Father's Memoir in 424 Steps
  • Portuguese title: A queda
  • Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

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Our Assessment:

B+ : impassioned and unabashed, nicely presented

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Financial Times . 13/6/2014 Julius Purcell
The Independent . 15/5/2014 Jethro Soutar
The NY Times Book Rev. A 9/11/2014 Natalie Kusz

  From the Reviews:
  • "If this all sounds a touch narcissistic, it is partly because Mainardi is a somewhat singular writer (.....) (A) universalising of Titoís condition that appears to have begun as a means of coming to terms with it, but which has flowered here into an unabashed hymn of paternal pride. (...) (Mercifully) short though this memoir is, Mainardiís bravura palls towards the close. It surely counts among the oddest father memoirs ever" - Julius Purcell, Financial Times

  • "I thought I'd hate it. That I didn't says much about Mainardi's dignified authorship, as well as Margaret Jull Costa's measured translation, reining Mainardi in whenever he threatens to overdo it. (...) The format works well: it's a book to dip into rather than to lose yourself in." - Jethro Soutar, The Independent

  • "Each of the textís 424 fragmentary entries exemplifies the wild, illogical path the mind takes on the way to getting a grip, or to losing one. (...) Mainardi has crafted a masterly work in the best memoir tradition, placing emphasis less on what happened than on what he (and therefore we) can perceive because it happened." - Natalie Kusz, The New York Times Book Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Fall is an account of the bungled birth of Diogo Mainardi's first child, Tito, and the boy's steps through childhood. A series of horrendous medical mistakes led to oxygen deprivation at birth, leaving Tito with cerebral palsy -- affecting his motor skills. Walking is difficult for him, the eventual fall always inevitable, but each additional step a triumph; over the course of the book Mainardi reports on progressively longer stretches he manages -- until finally, at four hundred and twenty-four steps, "the farthest that Tito has ever walked", he can conclude his account, confident Tito can make it.
       The Fall is presented in 424 very short chapters, some only a single photograph or sentence, practically none even single-page length. Much is digressive: it all leads back to this situation, but Mainardi artfully ties in artistic and literary examples, Abbott and Costello, Hitler's euthanasia program, Venice (where Tito was born) and Mainardi's native Brazil (where they move back to, for a while), others who have cerebral palsy, and others who have children with cerebral palsy (such as musician Neil Young), among other things. It's well-done -- no drawn-out narrative, just bursts of information and reflection by the entirely unabashed Mainardi.
       Mainardi acknowledges:

He has become my sole subject matter. I devote myself entirely to him, he is my one passion. I never tire of my subject matter either. I always find in him an unexpected color, an unexplored shadow. Tito is the Absolute. Tito is Everything.
       Mainardi also manages the difficult trick of keeping his readers from being too discomfited by his single-minded cheerleading -- in part also because he is self-aware enough and readily acknowledges: "I exploit Tito's cerebral palsy and I continue to exploit it". In his complete devotion to and love for his son, this 'exploitation' seems entirely justifiable, and Mainardi doses and paces everything well, preventing the account from bogging down in sentimentality.
       The mix of general enthusiasm and historical minutiae is nicely done, not-quite-stray facts that Mainardi weaves together adding surprising and welcome variety to his basic story. The carefully controlled anger, at the hospital's negligence as well as the treatment of those similarly afflicted in other circumstances, is all the more powerful for those small bursts in which it appears.
       A small, pocket-sized hardcover, it's a beautiful little book, too, and with its many short chapters and tangents lends itself to dipping into.

- M.A.Orthofer, 20 October 2014

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The Fall: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Brazilian author Diogo Mainardi was born in 1962.

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© 2014-2021 the complete review

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