This is the story of a fall. It won’t take a minute.
Businessman, son, husband, lover, father, Martin Prendergast stands high up on an office ledge. He falls – perhaps physically, perhaps only mentally as yet. As he falls, he sees from various surreally appearing vantage points (such as a cliff, a slippery pole, a ceiling) scenes from his life unfolding in reverse order, a chronology reported in a minority of near-death experiences (to quote his mother, ‘he always did do everything arse-over-elbow’).
Why is he suicidal? His business is solvent despite the recent global financial crash. His marriage to Rosemary is foundering (he has been having a commonplace affair with a temp from the office), and his children barely speak to him. His mother is showing signs of dementia, and he of the same heart trouble that killed his beloved father. And then there was his one tragic love story… Still, the closer he gets to childhood, the more these reasons peel away, and the stronger is the sense of possibility.
That’s one way to read the novel. Another is to flip it over and follow Prendergast’s journey from possibility to despair. This two-directional book was written to be read from chapter 27 to chapter 0, and/or from chapter 0 to chapter 27. It is what used to be called an existentialist novel, but here the existential angst isn’t that of an artistic hero-outsider but of an Everyman – though one who ‘always sickened after something’.
On a striped deckchair at last. In the back garden at last. With the startled dog muzzled at last. And a beer poured to perfection at last. And the hum of the lawnmowers diminished at last. And the neighbour’s bin collected at last. And the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy ending at last. And only the thought of his father at last.
Watch a promo video made for the launch of the book.