A lot of the very best books have a very simple story, made interesting by the new perspective that the author has brought to it. Perhaps it’s a story we have heard a hundred times before, but now it’s full of magic and vision.
Lanny is Max Porter’s second book, but I hadn’t heard of him until a few days ago, when I first picked it up. I notice, googling now, that his first book, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, is described as “surprising” in one of the reviewer quotations on the cover. I would say the same thing about Lanny. There’s little about this book that I could have expected.
I won’t say too much about what happens in the story because I don’t want to spoil it – I notice that the blurb on the cover very cleverly served to intrigue me while giving nothing away. This is a book to be enjoyed as it goes along, where expectation is useless.
This is prose that is also poetry, and that uses the special methods of poetry to have its effect. Poetry is about emotion surely, but the poet’s route to emotion is through the surprising collision of words with words, images with images. What I found in this book was a number of delicious what-is-happening moments, that feeling when a story is interrupted by a sudden collision, an image arriving out of nowhere, and we genuinely wonder where the author might be taking us from here. In the end, Porter provides a poignant meditation on human creativity, love, and loss, but he does so in a way that is as surprising as it is heartfelt.