Rich Marcello’s The Beauty of the Fall is an absorbing story that tackles depression, social change and personal conflict, all against the backdrop of a man’s struggle to create a new business to shake up the status quo.
The yarn kicks off as Dan Underlight is fired from a company that’s he’s been at for more than a decade, as an instrumental employee in its huge growth, by a close friend. This is one of many woes for Dan — adding to his basket that contains a failed marriage, the death of his son and plenty more to come.
Dan decides to get back on the horse by creating a start-up, one that’s going to be even more revolutionary than that of his former employer.
Today, I’ll set off to change the world, or I’ll fall and shatter.
The level of detail Marcello puts into the descriptions of the business and its establishment is astounding, hinting at countless hours of research to get it right. Even better, for a topic that could very easily be dull, he manages to keep it engaging throughout.
It’s not just the technical stuff that Marcello can turn into something great, his dialogue is, for the most part, realistic and engaging, and he often treats the reader to beautiful imagery and a great turn of phrase.
The Suits are black, genderless, and fill the elevator. As they slowly unload, walk toward my office, they scan everything— the flash-frozen employees watching their entrance, the desks filled with proprietary info, the cappuccino maker that would never make its way into one of their government offices. Maggie, who is standing next to me, who I insisted attend this meeting despite her strong objections, turns ashen, and a fidget subjugates her hand.
There’s plenty more to the book than just the new business — and how it plans to change the world. The reader is thrown into Dan’s life as he struggles to find and keep a meaningful relationship, as he fails to cope with his son’s death and as he looks for answers in all the wrong places.
As you may have guessed from Dan’s background, the business venture is by no means smooth sailing, and his struggles to keep himself together add a very personal side to the story. Despite his vast riches — at one point he brags about spending $10k on a birthday present for his son — it’s hard not to feel sorry for him.
When Zack was eight, I took him to see Manchester United in the UK one weekend. I even got him into the locker room with the team after the game, where they all signed a ball for him.
While this was certainly a very good read, it felt annoyingly like it should’ve been a great one. Although it has more than its fair share of positives, there were a few negatives holding it back.
One of the big issues was that often I felt like the discussions in the book were more lectures aimed at the reader than they were conversations between the characters. I take no real issue with what was being said, but the rhetoric was often unnecessary and only served to slow down the story.
This slow pace was also evident in the start of the book, with the novel taking a while to get going. I feel that with a harsh edit, a lot of the story lines could be tidied up to strengthen the entire piece.
Having said that, once I found myself immersed in The Beauty of the Fall, I found it hard to put it down. And it’s the first time since Striking 13 started that I’ve really been able to say that.