It’s been a busy two weeks, but now I can settle in and review some of the books I read while on vacation, starting with The Beauty of the Fall by Rich Marcello (see his note below). The novel won the 2017 Rosie’s Book Club award for contemporary fiction.
The Beauty of the Fall* by Rich Marcello
(*Amazon Affiliate link)
Summary: Dan Underlight is overwhelmed with his problems. He helped found the tech company RadioRadio with his friend and boss Olivia, but after sixteen years together, she fires him. He is divorced and is still grieving the death of his young son, Zack. Will he be able to pull himself together enough to start another company?
This novel reflects on some of the harsh realities of our times. In addition to being an insider’s view of technology start-ups, it has themes not only of workaholism, grief, domestic violence, and self-mutilation, but also of therapy and recovery. For example, the main character’s relational therapy session in chapter 2 (after he’s fired) sounds like more fun than most kids have at a play group.
I’ve talked before how authors should treat their introductions like they are inviting the reader into their home, that they should be welcoming. For this novel, the introduction has a few bumps, none of which are serious. For example, it might take a little time to get used to the present tense verbs. Present tense is hard to pull off, but it is becoming increasingly popular, especially in literary fiction.
Turning the noun restroom into a verb in the first full paragraph might make a few grammar purists want to bail.
“Midway, my legs go wobbly, so I restroom to regroup.”
Don’t bail, however, because the introduction is rough for a reason. Dan is grieving and unstable and about to be fired. He’s having a tough time and the prose reflects that. Once past the first pages, the story smooths out and becomes engrossing.
I was especially taken by the insights into the corporate culture of tech companies. Sometimes the business-related sections were a bit dry, but it seemed to fit the character. He becomes a different person at work, more cerebral and less emotional. Outside of work, the two sides reverse in prominence.
The Beauty of the Fall is full of surprising twists and searing tragedies. Fortunately, the author blunts the harshness of some of the most traumatic events by foreshadowing and/or revealing them to the reader after they have occurred. Seeing how Dan deals with each new onslaught — in either positive or negative ways — will likely help readers better deal with similar situations.
What more can you ask for in a novel?
A Note from Author Rich Marcello:
I spent the last year on the board of the Bridges Center for sexual and domestic violence, and one of the main characters in the novel, Willow (who is Dan’s love interest), is professionally based on Dawn Reams who runs the Bridges Center. She helped me a great deal as I was shaping the novel, and in particular, she focused on the DV passages in the book to ensure they were authentic and unflinching. That’s why I am donating 2018 profits from the book to Bridges.
See Rich Marcello’s:
Paperback: 378 pages
Publisher: Langdon Street Press (October 25, 2016)
Disclosures: This book was provided by the author for review purposes. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.