Review: The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon

Title: The Pier Falls
Author: Mark Haddon
Pages: 320
Genre: Short Stories, Literary Fiction, Fiction
Source: Free ARC from Doubleday Books

Rating: B+

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Doubleday Books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review (and trust me, honest is always what you’ll get).

Review: The remarkable collection of short stories in Mark Haddon’s The Pier Falls finally made me a believer. Not in Haddon, whose The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time I very much enjoyed, but in the power of a brief, but well-penned story. My previous experience with short stories left a lot to be desired, mostly because I always felt there wasn’t enough time to connect with the characters, to settle in and get lost in the story. But apparently, I haven’t been reading the right short stories. 😉

While every story in this collection can stand on its own two feet, I definitely had my favorites. “Wodwo” was jarring, really shook me up, and I still don’t know what I think about the rightness of the ending, but I can’t stop thinking about it. Do some people have to suffer extreme pain and loss in order to find their humanity? Is hitting rock bottom, in the deepest of darks, necessary to for some to realize what life is really about, what’s truly important? And is it morally repugnant or highly virtuous to dole out that suffering if the intent is for the betterment of the person who suffers at your will? Of all the stories in the collection, this one was the most unnerving, and probably the most defining of the overall work for me.

“The Bunny” had the most surprising ending, but somehow it felt less sad than all the others. There is hope that love, in one form or another, can be found by everyone, and that maybe we can find someone to give us what we need, even if we don’t know we need it. Love can be a cage or it can be a release. It felt like it should be sad, like I should be sad, but it oddly felt right.

Overall, every tale is a little odd, a little disquieting (some a lot disquieting). They all make you think more intently about loss and misery, suffering and relationships, the best and the basest of humanity. What are made of? What can we stand? How do we deal with catastrophe? What events shaped us and are we malleable enough as adults to reshape ourselves or allow our experience with others to do so? What is the point of it all?

Life goes on.

Life. Goes. On.

Read it. You won’t be sorry.


Leave a Reply