Grief Is the Thing with Feathers Summary and Reviews

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

by Max Porter

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter X
Grief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2016
    128 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Full of angular wit and profound truths, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers is a startlingly original and haunting debut by a significant new talent.

Here he is, husband and father, scruffy romantic, a shambolic scholar - a man adrift in the wake of his wife's sudden, accidental death. And there are his two sons who like him struggle in their London apartment to face the unbearable sadness that has engulfed them. The father imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness, while the boys wander, savage and unsupervised.

In this moment of violent despair they are visited by Crow -antagonist, trickster, goad, protector, therapist, and babysitter. This self-described "sentimental bird," at once wild and tender, who "finds humans dull except in grief," threatens to stay with the wounded family until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and the pain of loss lessens with the balm of memories, Crow's efforts are rewarded and the little unit of three begins to recover: Dad resumes his book about the poet Ted Hughes; the boys get on with it, grow up.

Part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter's extraordinary debut combines compassion and bravura style to dazzling effect.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Porter delivers a staggering tale of a father grappling with the sudden loss of his wife in this sharply poetic and darkly stunning debut novel." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Elegant, imaginative, and perfectly paced. A contribution to the literature of grief and to literature in general." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. In this remarkable debut, a man grief -stricken by his wife's sudden death stumbles around the house, ignoring his writings on Ted Hughes's poetry and unable to care for his two boys." - Library Journal

"A heartbreaking and life-affirming meditation on the dislocating power of grief... The powerful emotions evoked in this novel will resonate with anyone who has experienced love, loss, and mourning." - Publishers Weekly

"A haunting debut." - Brooklyn Magazine

"You quickly forget that the book is weird as hell, because it is also beautiful as hell, moving as hell, and funny as hell." - The Millions

"Heartrending, blackly funny, deeply resonant, a perfect summation of what it means to lose someone but still to love the world – and if it reminds publishers that the best books aren't always the ones that can be pigeonholed or precised or neatly packaged, so much the better." - The Guardian (UK)

"Like [Ali Smith], Porter has the language-sense to know how to use simple words to get at the toughest of subjects. Like her, he knows how to be playful and serious at once... A blast and a breeze and, strangely, a delight." - The Independent (UK)

"A meditation, in vignettes, on grief, love and literature... Funny and warm and real, this little book is one to linger on and savour." - The Telegraph (UK)

"Captures some beautiful truths about love and loss... [It] works because of what it demands its reader provide: we have all lost someone, or love someone whom we fear losing, and so in the gaps and silences provided by this book we are invited to supply our own grief, our own love, our own hope, and this transforms the work into a luminous reading experience." - Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"A beguiling literary hybrid, highly deserving of its Guardian First Book Award longlisting." - The Observer (UK)

"One of the most surprising books this year, full of vitality and freshness... Moving and ultimately uplifting." - The Spectator (UK)

"In this slyly funny and thrillingly original work, Max Porter somehow pulls a brand new story out of the darkest despair." - Jenny Offill

"I'm not sure I've read anything like Max Porter's book before. It stunned me, full of beauty, hilarity, and thick black darkness. It will stay with me for a very long time." - Evie Wyld

"One of the only accurate representations of grief I have ever found in literature. [Max Porter] combines verse, narrative, essay, myth, drama, jokes, bad dreams, and the language of therapy in a way that seems magical, permanent, utterly integrated, as impossible to distill to its components as it would be impossible to remove or isolate grief from love, or from life itself." - Sarah Manguso

"Less a novel than a totally new and feathered thing - hilarious, poetic, cheeky, postmodern, I guess, but in the most earnest and emotionally forthright way. I was as gripped as I was stunned by Porter's linguistic daredevilry, his intelligence, his emotional go-for-the-gut-ness. I loved this book." - Heidi Julavits

"Utterly astonishing. Truly, truly remarkable." - Nathan Filer

The information about Grief Is the Thing with Feathers shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Max Porter Author Biography

Photo: Lucy Dickens

Max Porter is the author of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, which won the International Dylan Thomas Prize and The Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award, and was short-listed for The Guardian First Book Award and the Goldsmiths Prize.

Porter lives in South London with his wife and children.

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