Saturday, September 10, 2016

#30Authors Presents Claire Fuller on The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon

#30Authors is an event started by The Book Wheel that connects readers, bloggers, and authors. In it, 30 authors review their favorite recent reads on 30 blogs in 30 days. It takes place annually during the month of September and has been met with incredible support from and success in the literary community. It has also been turned into an anthology, which is currently available on Amazon and all author proceeds go to charity. Previous #30Authors contributors include Celeste Ng, Cynthia Bond, Brian Panowich, and M.O. Walsh. To see this year’s full line-up, visit or follow along on Twitter @30Authors.

Without further ado, Claire Fuller's review of The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon:

The Pier Falls is a collection of nine short stories by Mark Haddon, most famous for his 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

Every story in this book is outstanding. The eponymous tale is about a pier and the lives and deaths of the people on it as it collapses and falls into the sea. Each individual’s action is written from a distance as if Haddon realises that to be closer to the tragedy would be unbearable. Instead he gives us snippets of the future for some of the survivors; the pathos highlighting those who don’t make it out alive:

                “He swims steadily towards the beach where he is cheered ashore, 
                  wrapped in a red blanket and led to an ambulance. His wife will 
                  spend three hours thinking he is dead and will not forgive him for a 
                  long time.”

The stories are about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. In Wodwo an English family gather together for Christmas when they are interrupted by an unusual intruder who changes all of their lives over the course of the coming year, until Christmas and the story comes around again, full-circle. The Woodpecker and the Wolf is about six people on board a space station, waiting to be relieved by a second crew who never arrive. Things just get worse from there on. Many actions are described in minute detail, emphasising not only the way the astronauts have to live, but also the type of person who would sign up for such a job. The story spins out of control, even while it is clear that Haddon has a firm grip on what he is intending, until reaching an ambiguous conclusion. I have never so desperately wanted to talk to someone about an ending as I did when I finished this story.

The writing across all the pieces is peculiarly unemotional, as if Haddon is giving us, the readers, the space to find our own emotions between the words. And if these stories sound bleak, that’s because they are. Don’t dip into The Pier Falls expecting a sunny ride, but if you’re looking for limpid writing, and top story-telling then this is your book.


Claire Fuller trained as a sculptor before working in marketing for many years. In 2013 she completed an MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester, and wrote her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days. It has been published in the UK by Fig Tree (Penguin), in the US by Tin House, in Canada by House of Anansi and in Israel, Taiwan, Italy, The Netherlands, France and Turkey. It will be published in a further four countries. Our Endless Numbered Days won the 2015 Desmond Elliott prize.

Claire's second novel, Swimming Lessons will be published in early 2017.



  1. I read Curious Incident but haven't paid a lot of attention to Haddon over the years but The Pier Falls looks really interesting! Plus, if Claire recommends it, it must be good..... Thanks so much for hosting again and for putting new books on our radar!

    1. Agreed and you're welcome! Love this event and wouldn't miss it!