Novel of the week: Lean Fall Stand
The ‘triumphant’ new novel from Jon McGregor
“Jon McGregor’s latest has the most thrilling beginning I’ve read in a novel for some time,” said Claire Allfree in the Daily Mail. Robert Wright, a veteran Antarctic researcher, is on a research mission with two young assistants when they are overtaken by a storm. In the ensuing panic, he suffers a severe stroke, which leaves him unable to speak.
The“utterly distinct” next section is just as good, said Allan Massie in The Scotsman: it focuses on the “state of mind” of his wife, Anna, as she realises she is now her husband’s carer. A final section dealing with Robert’s recovery feels dutiful by contrast – but so brilliant were the earlier parts that “one can easily forgive its banality”.
McGregor is a writer who likes to take risks, said James Walton in The Times. With its “wilful front-loading of the action”, and a main character who can’t express himself, this novel is no exception. But so wholeheartedly does he devote himself to whatever he is describing – whether an Antarctic blizzard, or the moment when Robert relearns how to touch his nose – that he “triumphantly gets away with it”.
4th Estate 288pp £14.99; The Week Bookshop £11.99
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