A Short History of Falling by Joe Hammond
(Fourth Estate, 2019)

A Short History of Falling

by Joe Hammond

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.

We keep an old shoebox, Gill and I, nestled in a drawer in our room. It s filled with thirty-three birthday cards for our two young sons: one for every year I ll miss until they re twenty-one. I wrote them because, since the end of 2017, I ve been living with and dying from motor neurone disease.

This book is about the process of saying goodbye. To my body, as I journey from unexpected clumsiness to a wheelchair that resembles a spacecraft, with rods and pads and dials and bleeps. To this world, as I play less of a part in it and find myself floating off into unlighted territory. To Gill, my wife. To Tom and Jimmy.

A Short History of Falling is about the sadness (and the anger, and the fear), but it s about what s beautiful too. It s about love and fatherhood, about the precious experience of observing my last moments with this body, surrounded by the people who matter most. It s about what it feels like to confront the fact that my family will persist through time with only a memory of me. In many ways, it has been the most amazing time of my life.