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A Short History of Falling – like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and When Breath Becomes Air – is a searingly beautiful, profound and unforgettable memoir that finds light and even humour in the darkest of places.
We keep an old shoebox, Gill and I, nestled in a drawer in our room. It’s filled with thirty-three birthday cards for our two young sons: one for every year I’ll miss until they’re twenty-one. I wrote them because, since the end of 2017, I’ve been living with – and dying from – motor neurone disease.
This book is about the process of saying goodbye. To my body, as I journey from unexpected clumsiness to a wheelchair that resembles a spacecraft, with rods and pads and dials and bleeps. To this world, as I play less of a part in it and find myself floating off into unlighted territory. To Gill, my wife. To Tom and Jimmy.
A Short History of Falling is about the sadness (and the anger, and the fear), but it’s about what’s beautiful too. It’s about love and fatherhood, about the precious experience of observing my last moments with this body, surrounded by the people who matter most. It’s about what it feels like to confront the fact that my family will persist through time with only a memory of me. In many ways, it has been the most amazing time of my life.
‘it is Hammond’s curiosity about death and his desire to report from the front line that makes this such a strangely invigorating read…his testimony deserves a place on the shelf beside When Breath Becomes Air and Late Fragments’ Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love,The Times
‘His voice is captivating, his observations are searing, and his book is a blessing. This book will inspire you even as it breaks your heart’ Kathryn Mannix, author of With the End in Mind
‘I loved this book, and read it in a day. It's surprising and uncommon and I don't think I'll ever forget it’ Sunjeev Sahota, author of The Year of the Runaways
'A Short History of Falling is a beautifully written reminder that life can be tragic as well as full of joy' Christie Watson, bestselling author of The Language of Kindness
‘Touching and tragic. It is very hard to imagine how anyone could write so lyrically,dispassionately and persuasively of their imminent demise and its effect on those around them’ James Le Fanu, author of Too Many Pills
'An inspirational, ultimately heartbreaking account of experiencing life as the nervous system fails, shared with courage and humour' Professor Stephen Westaby, author of Fragile Lives
‘It’s something of a cliché to call memoirs about a terminal illness life-affirming. But you will cherish everyone and everything you love, not to mention the capabilities of your own body, all the more dearly after reading this beautiful, devastating and stunningly written memoir’ Caroline Sanderson, Bookseller Book of the Month