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Lean Fall Stand: The astonishing new book…
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Lean Fall Stand: The astonishing new book from the Costa Book… (edição: 2021)

de Jon McGregor (Autor)

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5210398,791 (4.16)6
Membro:alexrichman
Título:Lean Fall Stand: The astonishing new book from the Costa Book Award-winning author of Reservoir 13
Autores:Jon McGregor (Autor)
Informação:Fourth Estate (2021), Edition: 01, 288 pages
Coleções:Read, Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:***
Etiquetas:2021

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Lean Fall Stand de Jon McGregor

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The first section of the book (entitled “Lean”) begins in Antarctica where Robert (Doc) Wright is serving as general technical assistant to two young researchers. An expedition to take photos ends in tragedy. The second section (entitled “Fall”) focuses on Anna, Robert’s wife, who becomes his primary caregiver as he struggles to recover from a stroke. The final section (entitled “Stand”) centres on an aphasia support group where people are encouraged to explore different methods of communication in order to tell their stories.

Though the three parts might seem to belong to three different genres, they can all be called survival stories connected by the theme of communication. In the Antarctica chapter, there is a lot of miscommunication and broken communication because the men hear only snatches of each other’s voices on their radios. Then Robert’s ability to talk is compromised. In “Fall” Robert is unable to communicate easily, and Anna is given incomplete information about Robert’s condition and treatment. In “Stand” we encounter people who are experiencing different types of aphasia and learning other ways of expressing themselves, including non-verbal communication.

Isolation is also an important element in the three sections. By virtue of their remote location, the Antarctica team is isolated from the outside world, and events cause the three of them to become physically isolated from each other. Anna and Robert, accustomed to living apart, are brought together but remain emotionally isolated and struggle to connect. Everyone in the support group feels isolated because of difficulties communicating with others.

Readers will probably like different sections of the novel for various reasons, but I found something to admire in all parts. “Lean” is an adventure story with lots of action and suspense. It ends with Robert’s stream-of-consciousness which so realistically reflects his fragmented and confused thinking. What is outstanding in “Fall” is not just Robert’s struggle to adapt to his circumstances but also the impact his situation has on others, especially Anna. “Stand” for me was the weakest, but it depicts various types of aphasia and offers hope in showing people adapting to a new way of functioning in the world.

I enjoyed the characterization of Robert and Anna. Robert is a 30-year veteran of expeditions to Antarctica. He enjoys the “pure cold blessing of silence” to be found on the southernmost continent, though he spends evenings entertaining the men with “detailed stories about his early seasons at Station K.” And when he’s home, he talks so much that Anna one time tells him, “Shut the shit up!” This is the man who finds himself in a position where he has lost the ability to tell his stories and “always had to reach for the words. As though they’d been put on a high shelf in the stores. Out of reach. Or left outside, snowed under, needing to be dug out.” The traits he needed to survive in the challenging conditions of Antarctica, he has to apply to the challenges of his new life. In the opening, he serves to provide perspective to a photo, his size illuminating the scope of Antarctica’s vastness. In the end, he serves to provide a focus on both the enormity of recovery and the immense possibilities.

Like Robert, Anna also enjoys silence; she likes time alone in her garden and attends meetings of the Society of Friends which are held in silence. Then she is faced with caring for a man who struggles to speak. Her life is totally upended when Robert comes home. She is independent and self-sufficient and has become accustomed to living apart from her husband as he spent months of each of the last 30 years in Antarctica. She is a climate change scientist, but her career has to be put on hold so she can care for her husband. She admits to a friend that, “’I don’t know if I want him to come home’” and “’I don’t want to be a carer; I never really wanted to be a wife.’” We see her exhaustion as she helps Robert’s rehabilitation, with little help from social services or their self-absorbed children. She experiences a gamut of emotions: resentment, anger, and frustration.

There is much to unravel in a McGregor novel; his style is sparse, but every word is significant. If unconventional, thought-provoking literary fiction is what you enjoy, this book should be on your to-be-read pile.

Note: I received a digital galley from the publisher via NetGalley.

Please check out my reader's blog (https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski). ( )
  Schatje | Sep 20, 2021 |
This was a book I didn't know much about before starting it (it was a gift and I find the book blurbs can often be spoilers), and it surprised me as from part 1 I thought it was going to be an atmospheric thriller but parts 2 and 3 went in a very different direction.

Lean, Fall, Stand in the title is the name of the three parts of the book. In Lean an Antarctic research trip goes badly wrong, Fall tells the immediate aftermath of a stroke for both the survivor and his wife and Stand is about recovery and the impact the stroke has on both of their lives in different ways.

It's a well told tale that keeps enough suspense about the truth of the tragedy in Antarctic whilst transitioning from an action and adventure novel to a human life story and honest portrait of a marriage of two hugely independent people navigating their way through cataclysmic change.

I wasn't sure where this novel was ultimately going, and enjoyed McGregor taking me on a bit of a ride through the dark in the story.

4 stars - a great page-turner. One that I'd recommend if you've hit a reading slump and just need a 'damn good read' type of book to get you out of it. ( )
  AlisonY | Sep 20, 2021 |
Lean Fall Stand by Jon Mcgregor is a highly recommended novel of an unforeseen accident and the struggle of recovery.

Robert 'Doc' Wright is a 33-year veteran technician at Station K in the Antarctic who arrives there with two postdocs geographic researchers, Thomas and Luke. When Thomas wants to take some pictures they make the disastrous choice to bend the rules, heading out without sat-phones and separate. When a blinding storm quickly rolls in, they are struggling to contact each other. It is at this point that Robert/Doc has a stroke and is unable to walk or communicate. Anna, Robert's wife flies from England down to Chile where he has been hospitalized. Robert, who cannot communicate, is unable to tell anyone what happened. Anna, who is an academic researcher studying climate change, has to set her work aside to become a caregiver.

The narrative is told in three parts: Lean, Fall, and Stand. Lean is the beginning of the novel, at the research station and the accident. Fall and Stand switch to Anna's new overwhelming and thankless role as caregiver to her husband who cannot convey his thoughts or needs. His basic care and therapy takes over Anna's life. Rather than the struggle for survival in the harsh Antarctic, the fight is for survival after a stroke and for caring for a stroke survivor. It is a sad tale that moves incrementally and slowly toward hope.

The choice on presenting some of the story through a stream-of consciousness style captures both Roberts broken language struggles due to the aphasia and Anna's endless tasks required to care for him. There is a lack of strong character development that held back some of the connection that might have otherwise been present for the characters. If you have ever known anyone recovering after a stroke, it might help you engage more completely with the characters.

This is a subdued, delicate novel that portrays the struggles of care and recovery with the same focus as surviving any battle. While I appreciated much of the novel, The lack of real connection with the characters and the repetition of Robert's struggles with his speech held me back a little.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Catapult.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2021/09/lean-fall-stand.html
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4241317508 ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Sep 16, 2021 |
McGregor’s take on this novel resembles one he has used before. The reader begins with what appears to be genre fiction, but eventually finds himself following a community engaged in more quotidian pursuits. His goal and, indeed, his gift, is the portrayal of messy everyday human and natural landscapes. In this instance, high adventure in Antarctica morphs into an examination of what it is like to be and to care for a stroke victim.

Here, his intention is to capture the nuances of communication. He does this remarkably well by exploring instances when words fail. Robert “Doc” Wright, a skilled Antarctica hand, suffers a stroke while conducting field work with two young scientists during a harrowing storm where modes of communication breakdown. Doc’s stroke results in aphasia. With that as his launching pad, McGregor takes a deep dive into what it takes to survive the loss of speech. The heroes are no longer Antarctic explorers, but instead become caregivers and therapists. His subtle theme becomes how communication is more nuanced than just recalling words and ordering them to make sense. In the face of aphasia, the afflicted are urged to employ alternative means to communicate their ideas.

The detachment, threat and inaccessibility of Antarctica — “that cold pure blessing of silence” — serves as an apt counterpoint to what happens back in Cambridge. As the consummate capable loner, Doc Wright finds himself totally dependent on his wife. Anna, a successful research oceanographer, is a person who cherishes her career and the time on her own Doc’s extended assignments in Antarctica provide. She never wanted to be one of those women who accepted a lesser career in support of her family. “I don’t want to be a carer,” she says at one point. “I never even really wanted to be a wife.” Her grit, frankness and determination easily make her the most interesting character in the novel.

McGregor telegraphs his plot structure with his title. The “lean” is the freak storm, the separation of the three men, and Thomas’ eventual loss on a drifting ice floe. Doc’s stroke and aphasia culminate in his loss of the finnicky control he so cherishes. The “fall” comes when Doc returns to the UK. His only useful expressions become “Yes, yes, well obviously of course” “Christ!” and “yes”. He is unable to utter the word “no”. He is now a defeated man, totally dependent on Anna. The “stand” represents Doc’s tentative steps toward rehabilitation. This centers on alternative modes of expression (i.e., movement) over language. Doc’s adventures in Antarctica serve to give him a status in his group he never had while isolated in Antarctica.

McGregor skillfully uses close first-person narration to capture how various lives can turn the everyday into something new and unusual. He succeeds in depicting a frustrating clinical disorder with empathy and humor. His characterizations wonderfully portray the ultimate tragedy of a condition that gives the mistaken impression of mental impairment. Some members of Doc’s group struggle to find the right word, while others fluidly string together words without meaning. Most have access to just a few words (sometimes just curses, followed by apologies). Not unlike his other work, McGregor leaves a lot unsettled in this novel, but he admirably redeems it with crisp depictions of how a community of reflections can meld into an astonishing picture of real life in all its messy glory. ( )
  ozzer | Aug 26, 2021 |
What a propulsive start to a book! I read straight through the first section, riveted and on the edge of my seat. The main characters are caught in a sudden storm on Antarctica, separated, each struggling for their life. It is horrifying, told through the eyes of a man trapped on floating ice, the man who had to choose between caring for Doc and finding the lost man, and Doc, the veteran, at first in control–before something struck him on the head.

Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor doesn’t let the suspense flag. The thirty-three year Antarctica veteran Doc finds his way back to the base camp but his thinking is disorganized, his language confused. When he is found and taken to a hospital in Santiago it is determined that he has had a stroke. He is unable to explain what happened, why the men were separated, why the other two men did not have their satellite phones.

Anna had become accustomed to being a part time wife, with Doc away every year for four or more months at a time. Now, just as she was preparing for an important conference, at the apex of her career, she is overwhelmed by their new relationship: caregiver to her disabled spouse.

McGregor does a marvelous job of taking us into the experience of suffering a stroke and conversely, that of needing to care for a stroke victim who is reduced to the dependence of babyhood. Doc’s speech becomes disorientated after his stroke in Antarctica, and throughout the book he struggles with aphasia. The list of duties Anna must undertake in a typical day is daunting, charting Doc’s medications, helping him with all his bodily needs, changing bedsheets, cleaning up after accidents, keeping him warm, trying to fit in laundry and grocery shopping and answering the phone.

There are no info dumps of information we could Goggle, no lectures about disability. Everything is presented through the characters and the action. It puts this book ahead of other books I have read about disabilities by popular writers.

We are not given a happy ending or a tragic one. Instead, Doc learns new ways to communication to compensate for what he has lost.

And that is all we can ask for, any of us, when something we value is taken from us. Our sight, our hearing, our mobility, our speech.

It is the daily miracle of just waking and girding oneself to do what you can not that inspires us. My mom was severely crippled by psoriatic arthritis after the birth of my brother, her neck immobile, the joints of her hands inflamed so she could barely lift and hold her baby. She learned new ways to hold a paintbrush, her knitting needles, in hands permanently constricted. This is courage. This is inspiration.

We are spun off balance, leaning into a fall. And, with help and support and determination, we learn to stand again. We rise.

I received a free egalley from Catapult through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased. ( )
1 vote nancyadair | Jul 19, 2021 |
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