The man who fell to earth book
The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter TevisThe Man Who Fell to Earth is my second Walter Tevis novel and unfortunately I didn’t like it anywhere near as much as I did The Queen’s Gambit.
Superficially it’s a sci-fi novel: the protagonist is Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from the planet Anthea (Venus?), who comes to Earth to make enough money to build a rocketship to send back home and bring his people over to water-rich Earth. Alright, fine, that’s the premise and, very loosely, the plot. What it is in actuality? About a sad and lonely alcoholic who happens to be an alien.
What frustrated me the most was how little happened. Newton gets rich patenting alien tech. Then he continues to amass wealth. And he continues to amass wealth. He meets a couple people along the way. And he continues to amass wealth. He starts drinking. And he continues to amass wealth. And he continues to amass wealth. And… zzz…
It’s not a long novel (just under 200 pages) but it felt way longer because there’s almost nothing here to engage the reader. Knowing what little I do about Tevis’ life, I get that it’s basically about his lifelong battle with alcoholism and how having been a sickly child kept him weak and away from school so he couldn’t make friends which must’ve felt lonely and depressing.
Loneliness and depression lead to substance abuse - as an explanation for addiction, that’s totally believable if hardly revelatory. Except overstating this without exploring any deeper isn’t just unsatisfying but it’s also immensely tedious to read.
I wonder if the phrase “feeling like an alien” as a way of describing having trouble relating to others/social isolation originated with this book. Tevis also takes a dim view of the US government but that feature’s par for the course when it comes to alien stories.
It’s well-written and parts of it are mildly interesting - when Newton is interrogated by Federal agents at the end - but The Man Who Fell to Earth was mostly repetitive and very, very boring!
David Bowie in The Man Who Fell To Earth - Book by Paul Duncan, TASCHEN
RETRO Book Review: The Man Who Fell to Earth
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book.
Like many genre novels, and sci-fi in particular, during the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s; it was written during a period of scientific revelation and excitement. Hints existed of potential future technologies, so while writers of this time had a head-start in formulating ideas for stories set in the future, it was a period of great experimentation and creativity. It is this kind of invention that, for me, makes reading the sci-fi and pulp stories of this period so enjoyable, and The Man Who Fell to Earth was no exception. Simply put, it is a realistic interpretation of a lone alien — of advanced technology — living on Earth. This alien is Thomas Jerome Newton. You could easily enjoy either with prior knowledge of the other.
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