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Publisher's Summary

An expedition to Mars goes terribly wrong. A seaside pier collapses. A 30-stone man is confined to his living room. One woman is abandoned on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. Another woman is saved from drowning. Two boys discover a gun in a shoebox. A group of explorers find a cave of unimaginable size deep in the Amazon jungle. A man shoots a stranger in the chest on Christmas Eve.

In this first collection of stories by the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon demonstrates two things: first that he is a master of the short form (several of the stories have been longlisted for prizes); second that his imagination is even darker than we had thought.

©2016 Mark Haddon (P)2016 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about The Pier Falls

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Exceptional

The Pier Falls is unquestionably one of the strongest most accomplished short stories of our time. In the hands of the narrator, it’s power is undeniable and I listened and listened to it over and over again. I cannot recommend it enough. I cannot.

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  • Derrick
  • 16-05-2016

Powerful, desolate, depressing

Without exception, the short stories within this collection are very well written. They are also superbly read. They all deal with death and usually with the collapse of a life; describing the decline that can affect anyone, however confident or otherwise they may appear, detailing the small, seamless steps towards oblivion. These stories span sci-fi and the supernatural, but are mostly set in a mundane, suburban setting. They are narratives of ordinary lives turned upside down, usually with an odd twist.

I cannot deny their crafted and absorbing power, but I have to say I have never found a book so desolate, so devoid of hope and so utterly depressing.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 23-05-2016

Dark, dark, irrevocably dark!

These nine electrifyingly real, detailed, shocking and disturbing long-short-stories reveal a horribly dark side to, well, everything. I wonder from what kind of imagination Mark Haddon incubates these scenarios? An appendix operation and a birth in graphic detail on board a space mission which has gone hideously wrong; the gradual disintegration of a seaside pier pulling down stricken and floundering human victims; the minutiae of a young woman cleaning up a friendless, hugely obese man. The one I found most gut-wrenchingly ghastly (there was keen competition) was the boys lugging home in a pram a mutilated deer which they had killed and hauling into the lift.

The stories aren't just about disturbing scenarios, however. They explore themes such as loneliness and isolation, particularly within families with remarkable sharpness and visual detail. There are unhappy and broken relationships (Carole returns 'home' from America after such a relationship to help her hostile sister tend their elderly mother who's suffering from dementia - although you feel her mother would have told her daughter she hated her because all she saw in her was Carole's father even if she'd been of sound mind.) There is the present haunted by the inescapable past. Wodwo re-works Gawain and the Green Knight when an armed intruder bursts into an already awful extended family Christmas resulting in violence that will be revenged.

These stories dip in and out of raw social commentary, morality tales and myth, although I must admit that The Island about a princess in a tapestry left me confused. Don't expect anything like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, except perhaps for Haddon's skill at entering into the lives and minds of unusual people in unusual situations. Don't expect to be entertained or your spirits lifted, but be drawn into a network of startling stories you won't forget in a hurry.

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  • janey
  • 26-08-2020

swerve

uninspiring stories with no start and no finish and no plot. I enjoy a short story but these do not live up to expectations, in my opinion. so much so, it is not clear when one story ends and another starts. I had to remind the stories a few times as it was not clear a story had ended, as there was no end, climax or conclusion. the only thing this audio book is good for is playing in the background whilst you have a nap. utterly surprising as I loved the authors other books. sorry Mark

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  • Ibrahim G.
  • 27-05-2019

Astonishingly red and astonishingly bleak!

Absolutely love this collection! Both Daniel weighman and Claire Corbett bring The stories to life, however as others have said here this is probably the bleakest collection of short stories you will ever read. From appear collapsing into the sea described with a detached and chilling impartiality, to The murder or euthanasia of a 37 stone man in his living room, a princess trapped on an island forced to fend for herself to a group of explorers who stumble upon a cave in dense African jungle, these stories are poignant and desolate. If I could write my own inscription on the back cover, it would be abandoned all hope you who crack the seal.

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  • Anna Haighton
  • 28-06-2018

Totally engrossing!

I loved this- just what I needed after finishing a long novel- lots of amazing and different short stories, although common themes are threaded through. Narration by both narrators is top notch and I loved each and every one of these tales.

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  • P. G. Foxe
  • 19-08-2017

Just a bunch of scenarios

Having read his famous 'dog etc' I was expecting more but it's just a series of vignettes...


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  • Mrs M A Leppitt
  • 20-07-2017

Captivating short stories

Each story is a gem, intriguing, original, powerful stories. What a skilful writer. His best book yet.

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  • R. A. Christer-Thomas
  • 18-07-2017

Very dark

This is a book of stories from interesting perspectives about sometimes odd events. It is not a comfortable read. It is very dark actually but it is a good read.

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  • Campbell
  • 02-11-2016

Well this was different!

The book was excellently narrated.

The stories are most unusual, all dark in some way. Some didn't have endings that made sense, but this was their intention. Very good, very different, I'm glad I downloaded it

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  • Jenni Merson
  • 04-09-2016

Poignant and well observed short stories

A beautifully observed novel of short stories, an amazing array of topics are covered, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. Highly recommended.

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