Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Pier Falls

The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon
Knopf Doubleday: 5/10/16
eBook review copy; 320 pages
ISBN-13: 9780385540759 

The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon is a very highly recommended collection of nine short stories. Most of them feature protagonists who are desperately alone, yet seeking a connection to others.

Contents include:

The Pier Falls: A pier falls after the rivets, which should clamp the joint between two weight-bearing girders on the western side fail, resulting in death and disaster. The disaster is carefully described and as time progresses the number of casualties rises.

The Island: A Greek princess is left abandoned on an island by the man she called her betrothed. "He is the only man she’s ever loved, and he has dumped her like ballast." The narrative weaves myth and fairy tales into a dream-like story. 

Bunny: An unhappy woman forms a relationship with a recluse who is a morbidly obese (518 pounds) man. 

Wodwo: A family Christmas gathering is interrupted by the arrival of a mythical wild man who has his own agenda. "A family Christmas is a guaranteed generator of unease." 

The Gun: A 10 year-old boy remembers the afternoon his friend took his brother's gun out for them to shoot. 

The Woodpecker and the Wolf: A group of astronauts establish a base on Mars. " 'Sofanauts' was the word they coined, people willing to be fired into space on top of a 700-tonne firework then spend the rest of their lives playing Scrabble and cleaning toilets." 

Breathe: A daughter returns home after being in America for years only to find her mother living in filth and her sister resentful of her return. 

The Boys Who Left Home to Learn Fear: An expedition explores the Amazon jungle with disastrous results. 

The Weir: A man forms an unlikely bond with a much younger woman. 

The stories do a wonderful job showcasing Haddon's talent and ability to tell a compelling story utilizing several different genres. I enjoyed most of the stories immensely. There are several surprises and some stories are depressingly dark. Wodwo was probably the least successful story for me.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
Knopf Doubleday for review purposes.

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