Evening with Max Porter – Sefton Borough of Culture, online, 25 March 2021, from £2 - Book now
Sefton is a Borough of Culture for 2021 and is teaming up with The Reader to invite you to spend some literary evenings in, continuing with Grief Is The Thing With Feathers and Lanny author Max Porter on 25 March. He’s been described as “one of the rising stars of British literature” and his first novel, Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, has even been adapted for the stage, starring Cillian Murphy when it premiered at the Barbican in London.
He’s been described as “one of the rising stars of British literature” and his first novel, Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, has even been adapted for the stage, starring Cillian Murphy.
This Ted Hughes-inspired debut was praised as “a luminous reading experience” by the TLS and called “amazing and unforgettable” in The Times. The moving yet witty story tells of a Ted Hughes scholar trying to come to terms with the death of his two young sons’ mother. Echoing the title of Hughes’s fourth poetry collection for adults, the fourth main character in GITTWF is Crow – the bird that to many is a harbinger of doom and a warning of impending death, visiting the family and refusing to leave until it is no longer needed.
The novel (or novella), published by Faber & Faber, saw Max Porter give up his day job, and the former bookseller and Granta and Portobello books editor was named the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year in 2016 (ranking him alongside alumni such as Zadie Smith and Simon Armitage), and it won the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the Europese Literatuurprijs and the BAMB Readers’ Award. Also shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Goldsmiths Prize, it has been translated into 27 languages and was described as “dazzlingly good” by Sunday Times Bestseller Chart-topping Robert Macfarlane.
Reprising the magic realism and bitter-sweet flavour, Porter’s second novel Lanny (also Faber & Faber) is set in a village outside London, capturing the gossip, good will, mystery and eccentricity of the people who live there now – and the people who lived there many moons ago. Dead Papa Toothwort has woken from his slumber and is listening, watching and waiting for the return of a boy called Lanny. Part mystery, part myth, part environmental polemic, Costa Prize-winner Nathan Filer describes it as “Under Milk Wood meets Broadchurch”, while Mark Haddon reckons, “It takes a special kind of genius to create something which is both so strange and yet so compulsive”, and Maggie Farrell says: “Books this good don’t come along very often. It’s a novel like no other, an exhilarating, disquieting, joyous read.”
Porter’s most recent book is a 80-page “bold and brilliant short work”, The Death Of Francis Bacon, which came out, again with Faber & Faber, in January. In it, Max Porter imagines, in seven written pictures, the explosive final workings of the painter’s mind as he lies on his deathbed, and it has been described by The Irish Times as “Max Porter’s masterpiece in miniature”. Max, on his website, says: “Don’t worry; I’m writing a proper, long, nice novel next.”
Hosted on Zoom, the first hour of the session will see the audience split into small break-out groups for a close Shared Reading of an extract from Lanny, guided by a Reader Leader. Then, following a short break, everyone will come back together and be joined by Max Porter for a live reading and a Q&A hosted by Andrew Forster, the Shared Reading projects manager at The Reader. Steeped in symbolism, Max Porter’s books are difficult to categorise. Are they novels? Are they poems? Does it matter? Max loves being asked questions, so this is your chance to find out – be sure to go along prepared!
This is the third event in the series. The Reader also welcomes poet Kei Miller on 11 March – more here.
Evening with Max Porter – Sefton Borough of Culture, online