Summary and book reviews of Lanny by Max Porter

Lanny

by Max Porter

Lanny by Max Porter X
Lanny by Max Porter
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2019, 160 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2020, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Natalie Vaynberg
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About this Book

Book Summary

An entrancing new novel by the author of the prizewinning Grief Is the Thing with Feathers.

There's a village an hour from London. It's no different from many others today: one pub, one church, redbrick cottages, some public housing, and a few larger houses dotted about. Voices rise up, as they might anywhere, speaking of loving and needing and working and dying and walking the dogs. This village belongs to the people who live in it, to the land and to the land's past.

It also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort, a mythical figure local schoolchildren used to draw as green and leafy, choked by tendrils growing out of his mouth, who awakens after a glorious nap. He is listening to this twenty-first-century village, to its symphony of talk: drunken confessions, gossip traded on the street corner, fretful conversations in living rooms. He is listening, intently, for a mischievous, ethereal boy whose parents have recently made the village their home. Lanny.

With Lanny, Max Porter extends the potent and magical space he created in Grief Is the Thing with Feathers. This brilliant novel will ensorcell readers with its anarchic energy, and its bewitching tapestry of fabulism and domestic drama. Lanny is a ringing defense of creativity, spirit, and the generative forces that often seem under assault in the contemporary world, and it solidifies Porter's reputation as one of the most daring and sensitive writers of his generation.

LANNY'S MUM

Robert said I should try again to offer Pete some money.

We argued about it.

He brought it up at a dinner party with Greg and Sally.

Tell me, he said, is it or is it not weird that Mad Pete is giving free art lessons to Lanny?

Don't call him that, I said, because I think it's horrid, and I dislike the cruelty Robert performs when he's drinking, when he is showing off to friends.

I vote totally weird, said Sally.

I vote not in the slightest bit weird, said Greg. He's Peter Blythe, he was pretty famous back in the day, so you're getting a bargain. And if they get on well, and he needs the company, go for it.

'Needs the company' is exactly why it's not right. It's unprofessional, said Sally.

Exactly, says Robert, waving his expensive salad tongs. Who needs the company? Are we lending out our son to stave off Pete's loneliness? Like conversational meals on wheels for sad old artists?

Oh fuck off, Robert, I said. Is it beyond your shrunken world view to imagine that ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Porter creates an imaginative tapestry of narratives. It reads like a modern-day fairy tale, with heroes who revere and protect nature, modern-day villains who refuse to see anything outside of their smart phones, and a whole cast of townsfolk who fall somewhere in between. A highly engaging and mysteriously vivid world that you'll want to return to again and again...continued

Full Review (415 words).

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(Reviewed by Natalie Vaynberg).

Media Reviews

NPR
Although not as buoyant, humorous, or moving as Porter's first novel, Lanny is every bit as original and more heart-racingly propulsive. His title character's off-the-charts whimsy might strike some as more twee than beguiling, and Dead Papa Toothwort as more puzzling than compelling. That said, Porter's innovative hybrid of fairy tale, fable, and myth cunningly evokes the freewheeling fantasies of children at play — down to the book's peculiar final section.

New York Times
In Porter’s winning new novel, Lanny, despair and unsettling entities are again on the menu, as are hard-won grace and beauty...[G]loriously cacophonous...hums throughout with hope and humor.

Washington Post
Porter’s framework has enabled him to write a book that is part poetry and part prose, where each main character feels like a member of a chorus delivering a soliloquy, some humorous, many others pained. This propulsive structure works in tandem with what seems to be Porter’s ultimate subject: the tribulations of parenting.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This is a dark and thrilling excavation into a community's legend-packed soil.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Porter is an enchanter with words... Elegantly mysterious: a story worthy of an M.R. James or even a Henry James and a welcome return by an author eminently worth reading.

Library Journal (starred review)
This imaginative novel starts off dreamily, picks up speed, and races to a propulsive conclusion. A guaranteed edge-of-your-seat read.

Booklist (starred review)
Porter has created both an entertaining tale and a novel of exceptionally creative experimentation and genre extension.

Author Blurb Maggie O'Farrell
It's hard to express how much I loved Lanny. Books this good don't come along very often. It's a novel like no other, an exhilarating, disquieting, joyous read. It will reach into your chest and take hold of your heart. Every page is a joy. It's a novel to press into the hands of everyone you know and say, read this.

Author Blurb Daisy Johnson
Max Porter writes like no one else and it is impossible not to be swept along and astounded. Lanny is a wonder.

Author Blurb Nathan Filer
The writing is stunning and deeply affecting. The plot thunders along. This is a book that resolutely refuses to be categorised but to get somewhere close, think: Under Milk Wood meets Broadchurch.

Author Blurb Mark Haddon
It takes a special kind of genius to create something which is both so strange and yet so compulsive.

Author Blurb Kamila Shamsie
It shouldn't be possible for a book to be simultaneously heart-stopping, heart-shaking and pulse-racing, but that is only one of the extraordinary feats Max Porter pulls off in this astonishing novel.

Author Blurb Ocean Vuong
A powerful yet tender reclamation of the imagination, love, and art-making?all of it a brilliant defense of the outsider's tenuous foothold in society.

Author Blurb Claire Cameron
Reading Lanny is like going to the back of the garden to find the exact spot where magic and menace meet. It's delightful and dark, stark and stylish, and as strange as it is scary?I loved it.

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Beyond the Book

The Ancient Druids

19th century painting of a Druid with a robe and white beardIt is likely that when you hear mention of the ancient Druids or Druidism, certain images arise–perhaps there are flowing white robes or oak leaves involved, there are also probably long, bushy beards and maybe a sprig of mistletoe. Over the centuries that separate us from this enigmatic group, we have done a great deal of mythologizing, culminating in what is now a well-established portrait. In his new novel, Lanny, Max Porter calls on ancient druidic lore—close communion with nature, prominent featuring of trees and an existence of an unknown Other beyond what our eyes can see. But how much of his portrayal is accurate?

The stark reality is that there are only a handful of facts that we know for sure about the druids. They ...

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Readalikes

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