Dan Sandman

29: Free Fall by William Golding

In Books, Fiction on 18/07/2014 at 12:00 pm

Free Fall by William GoldingThe narrator of William Golding’s forth novel, published in 1959, presents to the reader a series of intimate portraits and scenes. Sammy Mountjoy is an artist, a painter, and a flawed man who has lost his freedom. Sammy chooses to tell his story in non-chronological order, jumping between his childhood and his adult years. As the narrative unravels, it becomes apparent that Sammy has led a troubled life. Perhaps Sammy tells his story to deal with trauma, perhaps it is an attempt to come to terms with the past. At some point, he lost his freedom, he started to free fall.

The genius of Golding is the novelist’s mastery of style and narrative technique. Every time I read a Golding novel, I am amazed at how different it is to the last one. The Nobel prize winner has the uncanny ability to create fully formed human beings from stories. Golding’s protagonists are often male, have had some sort of army or navy experience, and are uncertain about the nature of reality. After having a successful first novel, Golding could have written more books like Lord of The Flies, but he didn’t. He kept on reworking his imagination, inputting new data and outputting a completely original work every time. In this way, he was a true artist exploring his universe through the creative process.

William Golding is one of my favourite writers because he deals with complex ideas and asks difficult questions about the world. The world created in Free Fall is one of fragility, one where all encompassing narratives are not to be trusted. A story can twist and be tolled / re-tolled in an infinite number of ways. Homo sapiens are a complicated species who evolved language as a means of dealing with their complexities. Yes, this is a book about growing up in a poor area, about being a boy at school, about sexual abuse and Nazi torture, but it is mostly a book about how language describes and explains our inner worlds and our very existence.

If you like imaginative fiction, why not read a book by William Golding next?

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