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The Fall: A Father's Memoir in 424 Steps

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  564 ratings  ·  67 reviews
The Fall is a memoir like no other. It is a celebration of love, an homage to a courageous child, and an honest look at the ways beauty and art can be deceptive forces in our lives.

 The Fall is made up of 424 short passages. This is the number of steps taken by Diogo Mainardi’s son Tito as he walks, with great difficulty, alongside his father through Venice to the beautifu
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Other Press (first published February 10th 2014)
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Kati Heng
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know how Other Press does it. They just find these books that, in like 10,000 words, less than 200, digest-size pages, rip me to my gut. They’ve done it again with Diago Mainardi’s The Fall: A Father’s Memoir in 424 Steps.

You can’t even call it heart-breaking, just gut-twisting full of emotions. It’s the story of a father and his hero, his muse, his son, Tito, a boy born with Cerebral Palsy after the hospital made a mistake during his birth. It’s less a guide from Mainardi on how to deal
Oct 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebooks, reviewed
A parents obsession over for their child is nothing new and is the focus of this slim volume: "the Fall A Father's Memoir in 424 Steps" authored by novelist Diogo Mainardi. The book is written with 424 blog style entries, and details the life of Mainardi's son Tito, who was diagnosed in with Cerebral Palsy.

Mainardi recalls how startled he was when he discovered his son in an incubator, unattended by medical staff, turning green, in the maternity ward at Scuola Grande di San Marco hospital in Ven
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
On Monday, I was given this book in Cambridge by my friend Richard Russell. On Tuesday, I began reading it at a doctor's office in Waltham. On Wednesday, I finished it at a cafe in New York. Now, my mind doubles back and forth and back again as I ponder to whom I should send copies: Frederick of Boston, the charming scholar of Venice, the place where this book was set? Christy of Juneau, who blogs so magnificently about her son, who like the author's son, lives with cerebral palsy? My children, ...more
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
diogo mainardi's the fall (as memórias de um pai em 424 passos) is a moving portrait of a father's love and devotion. the brazilian journalist/novelist/translator's son, tito, was born in 2000 with cerebral palsy - a result of negligence and incompetence on the part of a venetian hospital. mainardi's memoir, through the lens of architecture, literature, art, and history, aims to make sense of his son's disability - highlighting the circular nature of both tito's story and the world itself.

Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
Release Date - 8th May 2014 (England, translated from Brazilian)


Join Diogo Mainardi and his son Tito on a journey of 424 steps, starting with Tito’s disastrous birth in a Venetian hospital. It’s a journey full of joy and reflection, and an honest exploration of fatherhood. It’s a journey that follows the arc of western culture, from Rembrandt van Rijn to Assassin’s Creed and from Dante Alighieri to Auschwitz, to show how one boy’s fate has been shaped by history. Above all, it is a cele
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't read much Nonfiction. After reading this, there isn't much reason for me to read any more. This was, honestly, the best book I have read in years. I have read a lot of good fiction, really good. But nothing touched me more than this story.
This is a short read, and I admit I neglected my own family in my haste to get to its conclusion.
A beautiful story of a father who's sole purpose is to care for his child. A child wrongfully stricken with Cerebral Palsy. But this isn't a sad tale. It'
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
A unique book written in a series of 424 steps as a father recounts the birth and early life of his son, who, through a series of accidents during the birth, has cerebral palsy. Intertwined with the stories of his son are discussions of the historic events leading up to the birth - both directly related to the birth and also the culture behind the hatred and misunderstanding of disabled people or people with cerebral palsy (including artwork, pictures, etc). This book is another one of those whi ...more
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a moving and often humorous tribute from a father to his son born with cerebral palsey. The book is laid out in 424 tidbits (steps) of information about his life with his son. The author draws many likenesses of historical Italian monuments and buildings, Brazilian beach detail, and famous people and paintings in history to relate to the trials, tribulations, and remarkable moments in his son's life. Very interesting book layout and comparisons. I really felt the love this father has for ...more
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This is a short quirkly little memoir of a father and his son Tito who was injured at birth, resulting in tito's diagnosis of cerebral palsy. I had to admit to ignorance of most of the artist references.
But Mainardi's style reminds me of MTV's "Pop Up Video", in its loopy referential style.

How can you resist a book with references to Abbott & Costello Go to Mars, and Jacopo Tintoretto?
I couldn't!
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really unusual book - difficult to classify. Written by the father of a child born with cerebral palsy, it relates the causes of his son's (Tito) condition and their journey through his childhood via Italian Renaissance architect Pietro Lombardi, Abbott & Costello and Assasin's Creed II to name but a few. I can guarantee it won't be the book you're expecting. ...more
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most beautiful tributes to a child I have ever read. Smart and rich and raw, it covers history, art, architecture, music, and the deep love between a father and his son. It is romantic in a way I have seldom seen in this kind of relationship, and it made my jaw drop over and over.
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book, and particular this quote from the book, is going to stay with me for a long time:

"That's the huge secret about disability- anyone with experience of it knows that a disabled person is just someone they love."
Bryce Van Vleet
Diogo Mainardi's tiny non-fiction book describes his son's birth and cerebral palsy through the lens of art and architectural history. It's a beautiful, devastating idea that falls(no pun intended) too flat.

The story is told through 424 "steps," or short vignettes. It's an interesting idea that could work but doesn't within this context. While the decision is poetic and revealed at the end in a heartwarming fashion, it just doesn't work for the first 400 "steps." The division of the story is a
Natalie Laguna
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don’t know what I expected when I picked this up but I’m so pleased. I also realize I didn’t know much about cerebral palsy but the way Diogo wrote about it was educational but also so interesting. His love for his son and for cerebral palsy was incredible to read. The way he connects everything, all these events in the world to his sons cerebral palsy, the circle. It was wow. This was just a great read.
Ada Francis Madriz Castillo
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sarcastic and loving at the same time. Beautifully written and flooded with superstitious reiterations. I loved it!
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rational but not cold, loving without being lost in sentimentality.
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A little gem in 434 “steps” (tiny numbered chapters) of a father’s life with his cerebral palsied son Tito, whose condition was caused at birth by negligence on the part of the delivery medical personnel at Venice Hospital. Lavishly illustrated with art and photos.
Jun 15, 2015 rated it liked it
unusual structure of 424 very brief entries, sometimes just a photo caption or quote or a couple sentences, symbolizing the 424 steps personal record of his son for walking before falling. His son has cerebral palsy, apparently caused by errors made by the medical team shortly after the birth.

The plot, such as it is, is his son's developing motor and communication skills, and in parallel the parents' winning a large lawsuit vs. hospital, but it's far from a linear exposition of these events. Lot
Joseph T
Nov 06, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is about what life was like as a father of a child with cerebral palsy. This story takes place in the life of Diogo Mainardi and in the twenty-first century. The author and narrator has a child with cerebral palsy named Tito, a wife named Anna, and a normal child named Nico. The narrator also mentions many historical figures and things to compare himself, his son Tito, and his situation. Some things he references are Assassins Creed, the Holocaust, and Abbot and Costello.

I liked thi
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nietzsche said “All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” Or as I prefer to interpret it "We see what we choose to see". The Fall: A Father's Memoir in 424 Steps is a written testament to how one can change what we see. The book is a quick and easy read. It's written diary style. The entries are six degrees of separation relating back to Mainardi's son Tito and the tragic malpractice that left Tito with cere ...more
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Now that I've shared it with a few friends I thought would love it, I can come out about how taken I was by The Fall. I got the recommendation last week at Faulkner House Books in New Orleans, one of my favorite bookstores in the world. I read the book immediately and loved it - it's another hard-to-classify book like H is for Hawk, which I *also* read last week. The Fall is memoir, yes, but interesting in conception and format, and very moving. A hand-sized book, and a short but (I found) drain ...more
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a love story. A moving, clever memoir about a father’s relationship with his son Tito, born with cerebral palsy. It’s clever because Mainardi writes in 424 steps like the steps that his son has progressively taken over the years as he grows stronger and more confident in his movement. A poet and journalist, Mainardi writes lyrically as well as in a scrupulously researched manner. It’s beautiful and fascinating.

full review:
World Literature Today
"Full of history and its connections to the present, Diogo Mainardi’s book is a journey told in 424 short pieces. Traveling with his son, who has cerebral palsy, Mainardi attempts to make sense of his and his son’s lives. Written in a tender tone and illustrated with images from art and history along with personal photos, The Fall is deeply moving."

This book was featured in the March 2015 issue of World Literature Today as a Nota Bene selection. See the full list of the March Nota Benes here: ht
Luiz Roberto
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recomendo a leitura. O texto é muito rico e fiz a leitura acompanhando, página a página, com buscas, na internet, dos lugares, paisagens e músicas citadas pelo autor.

I recommend reading. The text is very rich and I did read the book following, page by page, with searches on the Internet, places, sights and songs cited by the author.
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, 2014
Literature can often feel like a sterile act, beginning and ending on the page. Diogo Mainardi's memoir is fecund. It's beautiful, touching, and even more impressive, formally inventive. I'm grateful it was pressed upon me, because I otherwise would likely have ignored it--based on the cover alone. I recommend it.

Masterfully translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Oct 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
The fall was a wonderful book. If you have kids it makes you step back and think about the small things that we should not sweat or get upset about. What we need to remember is that having kids is a real blessing. I won my copy on GoodReads and will be paying it forward by sharing it with my friends. Thanks for a great book Mr. Mainadri
Nancy Sharp
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
A provocative read. I love the way that Diogo Mainardi structures the book -- a quick scene, anecdote, or image for each of the 424 steps his son takes before he falls. This book made me think...and still has me reflecting on the prism of possibility for all children and people with disabilities, overt or invisible.
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
While I appreciated how much he loved his son and the format was a unique idea, the format got in the way of the story somewhat. Some of the "chapters" were so short that you don't really have development and some of them seem almost silly. By the end it got frustrating or annoying. I also thought the literature/circular connections were stretches. ...more
I read an Advanced Readers edition of this book and did so in a matter of hours -- it is slim volume that combines prose with photos, art, news clippings in a touching memoir that captivates you fully.
Dee Schwinn
Mar 10, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this for a book discussion group. I appreciated the unique format and his love for his son, but found the references to the art work and literature a bit repetitive and unnecessary. One I am glad I read but did not rank it as the best.
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97 likes · 16 comments
“Knowing how to fall is much more valuable than knowing how to walk.” 5 likes
“O temor era desesperador. Era também um alento. Eu só conseguia ter certeza que Tito ainda estava vivo quando temia que ele estivesse morrendo. Para poder morrer, Tito tinha de estar vivo.” 1 likes
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