I have a slight obsession with Max Porter and his books at the moment. I just love everything about his books and his writing. You know that feeling that when you read a book, it speaks to you, and you just think: this book is me? It’s hard to explain (but I’m sure you get the gist) but this what I feel when I’m reading his books. A sense of comfort but getting lost in the magic of it all along the way – especially in Lanny...
Max Porter has a brand new novel called Lanny that was published on the 7th March (my birthday – which was a nice surprise!) but before I read Lanny, I wanted to go back to his first book, Grief is the Thing With Feathers. Everyone fell in love with this book immediately and there’s praise after praise for it – and still is. It was a global sensation that helped a lot of people in their own grief. I’m sure I’ve read it before when it was first released but I bought a new copy and it felt as if I was reading it all over again with fresh eyes. If you haven’t read (or re-read in a long time) Grief, I think it’s great to do so before starting Lanny as for me, one led into the other seamlessly. So, what’s Lanny all about? Here’s the blurb:
Not far from London, there is a village.
This village belongs to the people who live in it and to those who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England’s mysterious past and its confounding present.
It belongs to Mad Pete, the grizzled artist. To ancient Peggy, gossiping at her gate. To families dead for generations, and to those who have only recently moved here.
But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort who has woken from his slumber in the woods. Dead Papa Toothwort, who is listening to them all.
Chimerical, audacious, strange and wonderful – a song to difference and imagination, to friendship, youth and love, Lanny is the globally anticipated new novel from Max Porter.
Plot-wise, this is a hard book to describe I think but that’s a great thing too because with a Max Porter book, you have to be lost and be surprised along the way. The book is about an English village and everyone who lives in it (past and present) which is one main thing I loved about this book – the sense of community. Porter captures the essence and voice of a community by poetic prose of different snatches of conversation that literally dances all over the pages. There’s one who’s listening to them all – Dead Papa Toothwort. The only thing I can say: genius. I don’t want to go too much into Dead Papa Toothwort (I’ll be here all day) but it’s better when reading it for yourself. There are some great characters in the book – I loved Pete, or Mad Pete. He’s an artist that forms a friendship with Lanny that is one of the main plot points in the book and I found this relationship really interesting (especially later on in the book). I also loved Lanny’s Mum, I think she was the heart of the book. Later on in the book, Lanny disappears and you can feel the pain and hurt from his mother, seeping through the pages. It’s heartbreaking and harrowing. But, overall, my favourite character is Lanny. He just bounced off the page and I loved reading his story and Porter has created something very special with Lanny.
What I love most about Max Porter and his books is the way he constructs and de-constructs the idea of the novel. It’s poetic, it’s lyrical and as the words literally dance over the pages, you turn the book sideways, upside down, sideways again, and up and down again. It’s something physical and touchable that aids something new to the reading experience that you won’t necessary have with a Kindle. I love the use of the voices of the community that are scattered all over the pages – it brings a big feeling of community, belonging and that the village is full of characters.
The novel explores the power of the imagination, being different, friendship, family, growing up, growing old, nature, art, power of creativity, letting go, community, identity, the past meeting the present, and much more. It really is a wonderful book that captured me from the first page. I know it’s only March, but have I found my book of the year? I think so. I was just really in love with this book, it felt as if it was written for me. Sounds stupid, I know, but I just had that strong connection with the book. And it was published on my birthday… just saying.
Like Grief is the Thing With Feathers, Max Porter has created something special. It’s lyrical, whimsical, profound and beautifully written. While the words are scattered and dancing all over the pages, Porter’s characters and stories are not. They are rooted in pain, in love, in reality. I can’t wait to see what Porter conjures up next.
Have you read Lanny yet? What did you think? Are you a fan of Max Porter’s writing? Let me know in the comments!