“We fell” – On the Import of Words

I’m re-reading John Connolly’s The Black Angel because (a) he is one of my favourite authors and (b) the book is a wonderful documentation of slowly occurring, incrementally increasing loss. I admire the craft in the book, as well as enjoying the effect of the plotting and the pacing. Connolly is one of the authors I read since I started writing myself whose work doesn’t make me pause mid-sentence and think “Awwww, that’s not right!”

As I read the line ‘We fell’, my brain started to spark – it could just be the shorting-out, of course – but I started to think about how rich in meaning those two words were when placed together. These are the ideas that went shooting off in my Swiss cheese brain:

We fell.


  • Equals more than one.
  • Who is ‘we’?
  • How many are ‘we’?
  • Is it a bunch of folk or simply one multi-personalitied being?
  • What are the connections between all the members of ‘we’?


  • Equals from where?
  • Implies height – how high?
  • From a building, a cliff, the Heavens?
  • And the idea of being fallen has a moral/biblical implication as well.

So much power resides inside the reader’s head, embedded in the knowledge there, the cultural capital, the life and reading experience. That’s why We fell is a perfect sentence on its own.

Any further explanation of the questions raised by those two words can (and should) come after, gradually revealed in the unwinding of the rest of the story, rather than info-dumped: “We fell coz me and Justin tripped over a log and went over the edge of a cliff coz we were totally playing with our Gameboys and didn’t notice the world around us. The End.”

We fell.

We fell through fire.

We fell through cloud.

We fell through water and air, the one then the other.

And we burned.

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