Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

86%

10 Critic Reviews

Although charged throughout with high emotion, the novel is rarely sentimental. Porter resists the static register of the maudlin, creating instead a fabric of constant shifts and calibrations in voice, moving from rage to madness to profanity and humor.
-NY Times

Synopsis

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. 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.

 

About Max Porter

See more books from this Author
Max Porter works in publishing. He lives in South London with his wife and children. Grief is the Thing with Feathers is his first book.
 
Published June 7, 2016 by Graywolf Press. 129 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Sports & Outdoors, Parenting & Relationships. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Grief is the Thing with Feathers
All: 10 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Apr 13 2016

Porter’s daringly strange story skirts disbelief to speak, engagingly and effectively, of the pain this world inflicts, of where the ghosts go, and of how we are left to press on and endure it all. Elegant, imaginative, and perfectly paced. A contribution to the literature of grief and to literature in general.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Aug 13 2016

The powerful emotions evoked in this novel will resonate with anyone who has experienced love, loss, and mourning.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Katie Kitamura on Jul 01 2016

Although charged throughout with high emotion, the novel is rarely sentimental. Porter resists the static register of the maudlin, creating instead a fabric of constant shifts and calibrations in voice, moving from rage to madness to profanity and humor.

Read Full Review of Grief is the Thing with Feathers | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Kirsty Gunn on Sep 18 2015

...Grief Is the Thing With Feathers shows us another way of thinking about the novel and its capabilities, taking us through a dark and emotionally fraught subject, one airy page after another, as though transported by wings.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by LUCY SCHOLES on Sep 13 2015

The end result is a beguiling literary hybrid, highly deserving of its Guardian first book award longlisting.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Jun 02 2016

It's funny — in a jet-black way — yet also fiercely emotional, capturing the painful sucker-punch of loss with a fresh immediacy that rivals Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Ellen Akins on Jun 11 2016

To call this tiny but potent book a novel is to grossly misrepresent it — but maybe that says more about our constrictive definition of the novel than it does about this book, which uses the writer’s, and Crow’s, whole bag of tricks to transform the indescribable absence that is grief into palpable, undeniable life.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by A.N. Devers on Jun 03 2016

It is a complex story, not simply-told or sparse: Nothing is missing. Let it be a call for more great books of this length to be recognized for what they are — whole. Extraordinary is a book with feathers.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Ben East on Sep 11 2016

It’s this fine balancing act of fable and family drama that Porter handles so well. Grief Is The Thing With Feathers might only take 45 minutes to read, but its sentiments endure. Much, indeed, like grief itself.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Colette Bancroft on Jul 19 2016

Those literary allusions enrich Grief, but it stands without them as well – the reader need not ever have heard of Dickinson or Hughes to feel its emotional dive and soar. It’s a novel about grief that in some ways mocks the traditional novel about grief...

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Reader Rating for Grief is the Thing with Feathers
77%

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