It takes a daring novelist to be the first to bring the boredom, impotence, anger and mania of the last year and a half into their fiction, at least if they expect it to sell.
And a talented one as well, since such a restriction in life’s possibilities meant that descriptions of binge-watching, Zoom calls and losing one’s sense of taste left writers with little to work with. I suspect that for most readers a reminder of lockdown life is as welcome as having a lecture on the details of general anaesthetic after an operation.
Despite its brevity, The Fell by Sarah Moss manages to break out of the confines of the home for much
of its setting. If there is a weakness it is in the toil of trying to make the most mundane scenes of lockdown life seem worthy of Moss’s eloquence.
Fortunately, much of the book is centred around her characters’ struggles to break out of the stillness of isolation.
Too much of the period it describes has been summed up by other bodies in statistics about death, disease and debt, and too little has been spent properly describing it in words we can understand.
More than anything, Moss’s novel fulfils that purpose in creating the perspectives and monologues of those we wouldn’t see in the headlines or be forced to look upon in hospital beds.