Falling: The Story of One Marriage

Falling: The Story of One Marriage

by John Taylor

In Falling: The Story of One Marriage, John Taylor portrays the central human struggle - "the competition between [the] need to keep life interesting, to accept its limits, and to give it value" - that lies at the heart of divorce. Writing with moving eloquence and unflinching honesty, he describes the hopeful beginnings of his marriage, its gradual disintegration,… See more details below


In Falling: The Story of One Marriage, John Taylor portrays the central human struggle - "the competition between [the] need to keep life interesting, to accept its limits, and to give it value" - that lies at the heart of divorce. Writing with moving eloquence and unflinching honesty, he describes the hopeful beginnings of his marriage, its gradual disintegration, and the "horrifying act of will" needed to bring it to an end. He wrestles with the decision to leave his wife and young daughter, and the life they share, and struggles to clarify the nature of his responsibilities as a husband and father. Despite his involvement with other women, and his near certainty that his marriage is not salvageable, he remains profoundly reluctant to remove his wedding ring - even after he has moved out. Taylor's own story is interwoven with descriptions of the marriages of his family and friends, some faltering, some unaccountably strong. He witnesses the way divorce sweeps through his neighborhood "like a tornado, leveling one house and leaving the next intact." And with great clarity and compassion he explores the question that nearly all adults, married or single, ask themselves at some point: Should I stay or should I go? It is an account of one man's search for "moral coherence in a world that no longer imposes it."

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Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Benedict
The book is a page-turner...Mr. Taylor has found an elegiac voice, and the writing is rich, detailed and infused with genuine anguish.
New York Observer
Elizabeth Gleick
Falling manages to embrace, if not resolve, some of the questions gripping many Western societies: Is staying married always good? Is divorce always bad? What's best for the children? How, in the face of personal unhappiness, does one set one's moral compass?.... and [Taylor's] writing, lucid and lovely, creates a sense of intimacy with the reader.
Time Magazine
Entertainment Weekly
...[A] sparsely written narrative...as believable as it is heartbreaking.
John Burnham Schwartz
In lucid, unadorned prose, Taylor explores a terrain that heretofore has been left mainly to our contemporary fiction writers: the failing of a marriage seen not as an object of sociological study, nor as just another experience in an author's greater life story, but as an emotional country unto itself—a place of dire contradictions and sacrifices and mistakes, of pain and love.
Richard A. Schweder
The book is a...caricature of the illogic of misalliance...a satire about the painful experience of marital demise....If you ever wondered whether Plato was right that a society designed by the wise would prohibit divorce, you may find yourself pondering the question again.
The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Taylor (Storming the Magic Kingdom) has written an eloquent and deeply felt memoir about the demise of his 11-year marriage. Taylor married his wife when he was 26 and she was 32, after they had been living together for more than a year. Almost immediately their marriage underwent a severe strain when his wife was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which made her subsequent pregnancy fraught with anxiety for both of them. Although Taylor was delighted by the birth of his daughter, the years following were marked by a slow but progressive breakdown in communication between husband and wife. Taylor felt that his wife became resentful at her dependency on him, and, as their estrangement grew, he coped by having an affair and later moving out. The couple made several attempts to salvage the marriage for the sake of their daughter, and Taylor sensitively conveys his grief over the failure of these efforts. Clearly, neither Taylor nor his wife embarked on the path of divorce lightly, and Taylor manages to convey the sense of loss he will always feel without sounding sorry for himself. While this is an overwhelmingly personal book, Taylor does take a few well-aimed shots at family-values pundits who decry the "divorce culture" and view divorce as a failure of moral will. "While it requires will to make a marriage work," Taylor writes, "it also requires a horrifying act of will to bring one to an end." Author tour. (Feb.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Two young men, two different marriages, and two separate divorces, but two similar autobiographical formulas. Both authors use excruciating detail to outline the stories of their relationships. Both closely examine the marriage track records of their immediate and extended families, questioning why parents and grandparents were able to remain married until death parted them. Weddings, family celebrations, first loves, and previous lovers are examined. Neither author, however, is able to provide a reason for his divorce or the climbing divorce rate in general. Taylor, a former correspondent for Esquire and New York magazine, outlines his marriage, the birth of his daughter, and an affair that becomes as "burdensome as the marriage." He examines his solitude when living alone and his lonesome need to spend time with his daughter. Though he escapes any punishment for his adultery, he lives with the ache of regret for his lost family life. Roche, who teaches writing at the University of Central Arkansas, examines the nontraditional relationship of an unusual couple. The tale opens with Roche taking his second wife to meet Julie, his first wife. It is the story of his first marriage that he tells. Their relationship begins on the day Julie kicks him in karate class. They later marry and join the Peace Corps in Antigua. Later, Julie enrolls in graduate school, and the two live separately. Dan decides to hyphenate his last name, as Julie has, and this issue becomes the subliminal focus of the couple's story and their attempts to stay united despite the obvious fact that they are growing apart. Both Roche and Taylor are seeking closure. Roche has a better story to tell, but neither book is a required purchase for public libraries. Academic libraries needing materials to support curricula may consider purchase of both.--Joyce Sparrow, St. Petersburg P.L., FL
Kirkus Reviews
A polished nonfiction writer exercises his powers of observation and his writer's craft to reflect on his own marriage's collapse. The title Taylor, formerly a contributor to Esquire and New York magazines (Circus of Ambition: The Culture of Power and Wealth in the Eighties, 1989), has selected for this memoir reveals his self-consciously honest and positive approach to the subject of his marriage's demise as part of a larger whole. Aside from the effortless precision of his prose and his male perspective, it's Taylor's tone that distinguishes his story. Sadness, not bitterness, fills the book. As he describes the slow breakdown of his 11-year marriage ("a mechanism so encrusted with small disappointments and petty grudges that its parts no longer closed") and surveys the consequences of separation, Taylor feels a deep sense of loss-both for his family and for the part of himself that was defined by his family. In a series of 32 brief chapters, Taylor entertainingly (albeit selectively) familiarizes us with the individuals and circumstances that contributed to his marital situations: himself and his own family, his wife and her background, their meeting, falling into marriage, and falling "through the darkness" out of it. In between we meet the cherished daughter, Taylor's demanding or silly lovers, assorted divorcing friends and neighbors, marriage counselors, and finally, the marriage mediator and financial advisor who guided Taylor and his wife toward separation. Linking the assorted scenes and personalities is Taylor's narrative, driven by a formidable ego (as a journalist, he lost a job due to his "attitude") and by his search for "moral clarification." Falling represents,in literary form, Taylor's attempt to achieve such clarity and to come to terms with his own dishonesty and responsibility in the marriage's failure. Taylor's writing has style, but this book will most interest those-be they single, married, or divorced-with a curiosity about the most intimate details of someone else's marriage. (Author tour) .

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.81(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.89(d)

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