BooksReview

Lanny

Author: Max Porter
Publisher: Faber

Some early admissions are probably necessary. Firstly, as an unabashed fan of Max Porter I hope to punctuate the rest of my life with his writing. So, when I urge you to go out and buy Lanny and its predecessor, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, my own interest is paramount. Additionally, in this post-fact world, I have arrived at the belief that some truths are better told, and heard, through fiction.

Lanny is one of the books that has taught me a thing or two lately. Lastly, I propose to complete this review by telling you almost nothing about the text at hand because the particular joy of reading Lanny is to travel the road without a map.

See if you can buy Lanny in hardback. Its size, matt cover and textured pages make it a pleasure to hold in the hand. It feels, appropriately as it turns out, of the earth. Like Colm Toibin’s Testament of Mary, and David Malouf’s Ransom which are equally slim volumes, Lanny carries surprising weight.

Perhaps it’s the spare retelling of these foundational stories – the events of Jesus’ life, the barbarity of Homer’s Achilles and in the case of Lanny, the bogeyman man of English village lore – that allows their mystery to resonate in the noise of our time. Indeed, Lanny comes to us like whispers on a breeze.

To hear Max Porter speak is to understand his interest in narrative voice as polyphonic and performative. Porter opened the recent Sydney Writer’s Festival with a blistering rap about all things Brexit. Listen to the podcast and you will hear what I mean: https://omny.fm/shows/sydney-writers-festival/opening-address-nana-kwame-adjei-brenyah-max-porte.

In Lanny, Porter allows multiple and surprising voices, with all their cross hatchings and dissonances to build the events. Landscape and character are organic in their construction.

I defy you to read Lanny in more than one or two sittings. You’ll think about how we connect with each other and with home for ages after.

books@ssh.com.au

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