the fall by diogo mainardi

I’ve never read a book written like The Fall by Diogo Mainardi. I’m still not sure I fully understand it. And that’s ok.  Some things are not meant to be fully understood.  They just are.

The Fall is a book about love. It is a father’s search to find meaning in disability – in this case, Diogo’s son Tito’s cerebral palsy. Now, I’ve read a lot of books about disability: starting with Martha Beck’s Expecting Adam when my son was first born, through to Andrew Solomon’s masterpiece Far from The Tree last year. There are so many lovely memoirs from parents (mostly mothers) reflecting on life with their children. Ian Brown waded into the philosophy of disability in his Boy in the Moon. But there’s nothing like The Fall.

The Fall arrived in the mail on Friday afternoon. I finished it on Saturday night. The book is split into little sections, each representing a step taking by Tito on a walk around Venice. Some sections are a sentence. Others are longer. It is a beautiful book, complemented with the occasional photo and excerpts from Diogo’s column with the Brazilian magazine Veja. I cannot properly explain this book.

There’s this:

“We loved Tito so much that we even loved cerebral palsy.”

And this:

“I want to celebrate the value of a life of a disabled son.”

The Fall is about the meaning of a human life. It connects Tito’s birth with art, literature, Neil Young’s music, historical events, math, and the horror inflicted on people with disabilities by the Nazi Action T4.

If this sounds like too much, it isn’t. Diogo carefully illustrates how Tito’s life is connected with all humanity. Tito is part of a beach in Brazil, a Shakespeare play, a painting by Monet. As is repeated like a mantra throughout the book: “That’s what Tito’s story is like: circular.”

We are all human, by the very fact that we exist. And that’s simply enough.


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