“The Fall” by Simon Mawer

“The Fall” by Simon Mawer
“The Fall” is a novel about mountain climbing. Here is the setup.
Guy Matthewson is an expert brave mountain climber, ie. a wonderful person. Guy is a bit of an enigmatic chap too. Guy, by divine right, meets and beds pretty young women Diana and Caroline who happen to be wonderful people too. Guy’s son, Jamie Matthewson, is also an intense, courageous mountain climber, perhaps even a bit more enigmatic than his father. Jamie’s best friend, Rob Demar, climbs mountains with Jamie, is not quite so courageous and expert and enigmatic, but both Jamie and Rob meet and bed pretty young women Eve and Ruth, wonderful in their own right.
And so it goes. You get the picture. This novel is what best sellers are made of. This story is told with no humor, no sense of irony, very little pathos. The novel alternates between the time of Guy which is the early 1940s and the time of Jamie which is the mid-1960s. Much of the novel takes place in Wales and Scotland as well as the Eiger mountain in the Alps.
Perhaps I’m the wrong person to be reviewing this novel about mountain climbing. Most of the few accidents and injuries I’ve suffered have been the result of excessive caution rather than any sense of derring-do.
Simon Mawer is a very smooth writer, perhaps too smooth for his own good. There are no rough edges here, except in the rocks on the mountains. The novel is well constructed. Everything is just a little too facile.
As a potential best seller, I would give this novel an A; as a screenplay for an exciting action-adventure movie (which I wouldn’t want to see), this novel gets an A; as literature, this novel gets a C-.
While reading this novel, I kept thinking about Thomas Bernhard, the German writer. Most of his novels were about losers. Yet he could describe a scene where one of his characters is putting their shoes on over their dirty socks more interestingly than this novel could make climbing the Eiger.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Hey very nice blog!!….I’m an instant fan, I have bookmarked you and I’ll be checking back on a regular….See ya

    Like

  2. Thank you for your kind comment – am loking forward to your comments in the future.

    Like

  3. I was hoping that Simon would win the Mann/Booker prize this year for his Glass Room. Alas, it went to Hilary Mantel. A brilliant writer.

    You wrote a good review here – this is a book I have yet to read

    Like

    • I was terribly rough on Simon, that’s just the thoughts that welled up while I read the novel. MY next entry will be about my drastic changes of opinion concerning certain writers. Haven’t read enough Hilary Mantel yet to have a strong opinion, though I am fascinated with the era she writes about in “Wolf Hall”..

      Like

  4. I love really honest thoughts on books – even if you might change your mind later! I’m off to check out Thomas Bernhard now – haven’t heard of him before.

    Like

    • Thanks, Tracey. As you probably know, I’ve been reading several of your reviews earlier in 2009 and am very much enjoying them. If you liked this review, wait until you see the one I’m posting tonight. Thomas Bernhard is one of those writers that a reader may want to tip-toe into. I didn’t like him at first. He has one short novel “Witgenstein’s Nephew” that I thought was really good. I know I’ve really liked some of his longer works too, but won’t name any so I won’t get confused with others I didn’t like so well.

      Like

Comments are closed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: