cover image The Fall: A Father's Memoir in 424 Steps

The Fall: A Father's Memoir in 424 Steps

Diogo Mainardi. Other Press, $20 (176 pages) ISBN 978-1-59051-700-0

"Tito falls. My wife falls. I fall. What unites us%E2%80%A6what will always unite us%E2%80%A6is the fall." Mainardi has written four novels, two essay collections, a screenplay featured at the Venice and New York Film Festivals, and%E2%80%94is raising a son with cerebral palsy, Tito. The couple copes with Tito's fate by picking historical figures to blame: Hitler, John Ruskin, Napolean Bonaparte. He makes mystic arguments against the beautiful hospital Tito was born in, believing John Ruskin's proposal that "the architecture of a place" has the ability to "shape the destiny of its inhabitants." The memoir starts frustratingly slowly and is melodramatically repetitive (he uses derivates of cry five times on one page). But, once he begins to talk about his personal relationship with Tito in depth, it becomes clear that his parallels and praises, even the most extreme, are not delusional or indulgent, instead, a product of absolute love and playfulness. When looking back on statements such as, "Tito is my water lily. I am the Claude Monet of cerebral palsy," one is able to appreciate Mainardi's humor, which does not translate immediately. The memoir consists of 424 chapters, includes photographs, paintings, and extensive cultural research. Mainardi creates a particular journey into the universe of his mind, directed by his son. (Oct.)