Summary and book reviews of Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor

Lean Fall Stand

A Novel

by Jon McGregor

Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor X
Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor
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  • Published:
    Sep 2021, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Peggy Kurkowski
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About this Book

Book Summary

A thrilling and propulsive novel of an Antarctica expedition gone wrong and its far-reaching consequences for the explorers and their families "leaves the reader moved and subtly changed, as if she had become part of the story" (Hilary Mantel).

Remember the training: find shelter or make shelter, remain in place, establish contact with other members of the party, keep moving, keep calm.

Robert 'Doc' Wright, a veteran of Antarctic surveying, was there on the ice when the worst happened. He holds within him the complete story of that night—but depleted by the disaster, Wright is no longer able to communicate the truth. Instead, in the wake of the catastrophic expedition, he faces the most daunting adventure of his life: learning a whole new way to be in the world. Meanwhile Anna, his wife, must suddenly scramble to navigate the sharp and unexpected contours of life as a caregiver.

From the Booker Prize-longlisted, American Academy of Arts & Letters Award-winning author of Reservoir 13, this is a novel every bit as mesmerizing as its setting. Tenderly unraveling different notions of heroism through the rippling effects of one extraordinary expedition on an ordinary family, Lean Fall Stand explores the indomitable human impulse to turn our experiences into stories—even when the words may fail us.

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Lean Fall Stand is a linguistically spare and experimental novel that intrepidly embodies the mind and senses of a man suffering a massive stroke and its aftereffects. McGregor reveals the thankless nature of a full-time caregiver's work, but Anna's actions are all the reader is shown. It is not clear if the unsympathetic and shallow portrayal of Anna is intentional, but the effect is the same. Otherwise, the novel is a groundbreaking journey into the ways words can bind up, break apart or fail entirely, and how human beings will always find a way to be heard...continued

Full Review Members Only (798 words).

(Reviewed by Peggy Kurkowski).

Media Reviews

Washington Post
The first 80 pages of this novel are as gripping as anything you'll read this year...The final scenes, while not as exciting as the opening, offer a quiet exhilaration of their own as well as the tempered hope that, even after a major setback, we might all learn to stand again.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[S]tunning...Readers will be drawn into Robert and Anna's heartbreaking struggle, all rendered in McGregor's crystalline language. This gorgeous work leaves an indelible mark.

The Times (UK)
Another McGregor novel that, beneath its serene surface, takes huge risks...Fortunately, it's also another McGregor novel that triumphantly gets away with it...McGregor commits himself so wholeheartedly to the project of honouring minutiae (and has the literary talent to match) that the scene when post-stroke Doc first learns to touch his nose feels almost as dramatic as an Antarctic blizzard.

The Daily Telegraph (UK)
Jon McGregor's new novel...opens as excitingly as any work of fiction I've recently read...It's extraordinarily tense and atmospheric—and McGregor's prose is tight as a wire.

The Economist (UK)
This fine novel is reminiscent of A Change of Climate, Hilary Mantel's novel of 1994, with its shifting perspectives and emphasis on a single, life-altering event. The far-ranging human story in Lean Fall Stand simultaneously unfolds and enfolds.

Daily Mail
Jon McGregor's latest has the most thrilling beginning I've read in a novel for some time ... It's a deft sleight of hand—to seduce readers with a spectacular action narrative before giving them an entirely different novel about how we communicate—but regular readers of McGregor will know that it's the unsensational drama contained within the ordinary that interests him as a writer.

The Financial Times
Above all, this is a novel about language: how we fail it as much as it fails us ... McGregor's precise, well-judged prose attests to both the power of language and to the havoc created by its loss.

The Guardian (UK)
A novel of complex feeling and beautiful restraint from one of the finest writers around.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
[T]his is...a quiet, beautiful novel that's at once deeply sad and wryly funny. Lyrical and terse, funny and tragic—a marvelous addition to the McGregor canon.

Booklist
A tour de force of observational writing, masterfully capturing the struggle, frustration, and determination of Robert's healing process and recovery. Whether describing the majestic beauty of the natural world or the heartbreaking nuances of neurological deficit, McGregor's luminous prose brings the world brilliantly to life.

Author Blurb Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water
Utterly original. Jaw-dropping. Lean Fall Stand is the sort of book you'll think about for ages.

Author Blurb Hilary Mantel
Lean Fall Stand is a beautiful piece of work and should win a roomful of prizes. Jon McGregor writes plainly and exactly, like a poet, and the precision of his writing makes every heart-beat register. The quality of his attention is a flicker of light around the fragile human condition, and it leaves the reader moved and subtly changed, as if she had become part of the story.

Reader Reviews

Juhi Maurya

Good book
It is a good book. Everyone should read it.

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Beyond the Book

Aphasia

Cartoon drawing with speech bubbles showing how a person with aphasia struggles to communicateIn Lean Fall Stand, the main character suffers a massive and debilitating stroke during a whiteout storm in Antarctica. After being rescued, he returns home to England to begin the long, arduous task of learning to speak again. The medical term for the loss of the ability to understand or express speech is aphasia. It is usually caused by a neurological insult, such as a stroke, brain injury or neurogenerative disease like dementia.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "The most common cause of aphasia is brain damage resulting from a stroke — the blockage or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. Loss of blood to the brain leads to brain cell death or damage in areas that control language." With certain forms of aphasia, it is not ...

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