Having been first introduced to the writings of Albert Camus through The Plague, I have gone on to enjoy others of his work – The Stranger, and The First Man – and was pleased that The Fall continued to be on par with my expectations of this writer. In fact, this last novel won the Noble Prize for Literature shortly after its publishing, and is definitely worth the read. Unlike the others, this story is written completely in second person as a one-sided conversation with the reader sitting in as the character interacting with the protagonist Jean-Baptiste Clamence. Written in such an easy style, you’re carried through the novel while the author has you ponder the actions of his protagonist. An examination if you will of how you might behave in the same circumstance, what it means to be charitable if such charity is for the sake of your pride, or whether a policy of absolute truth doesn’t actually mean you’re a good person. Delving into societal morals, Camus challenges the reader to do some soul searching while enjoying the story of a lawyer who leaves his successful Parisian practice behind and washes up in an Amsterdam bar called Mexico City. Unburdening himself of his “crimes,” the author questions whether all of the “standards” citizens are expected to adhere to, might in some cases actually be hypocritical. Worry not; it’s not as bleak as it sounds. There are places along the narrative that are actually funny, helping carry you through some of the darker sections.
It’s a short novel, so definitely a great choice for the commute.