Grief is the Thing With Feathers, by Max Porter

Review by Paraic O’Donnell

Sat, Oct 3, 2015, 00:53

   
 

Book Title:
Grief Is the Thing With Feathers

ISBN-13:
978-0571323760

Author:
Max Porter

Publisher:
Faber

Guideline Price:
£10.00

Ted Hughes’ Crow marked his return to poetry following the suicide of Sylvia Plath, a cataclysm that can be felt in that collection’s violent rupturing of form. Borne of his obsession with Hughes, Max Porter’s début appears at first to confront bereavement more directly. A woman has died suddenly. In their London flat, her husband and young sons cling to the disordered remnants of family life. We hear their voices in alternating passages: Dad is immersed in grief; the boys, profoundly hurt, orbiting a barely understood absence. Enter Crow, an ancient trickster of inscrutable motives (as he was for Hughes), and here a superbly voiced embodiment of natural ferocity. Porter has been daring in shaping this extraordinary book, but its force is in its almost unbearably proximate examination of loss.