Lanny by Max Porter


Having really enjoyed Grief Is The Thing With Feathers I was excited to read Max Porter’s latest novel, Lanny. And after devouring this story in just one sitting I can say that Max Porter has crafted a wonderfully written tale once more, as we see life in a village unfold, amongst which we meet an imaginative young boy.

Lanny is considered a gifted, creative child, though he has his eccentricities. We see this through the perspective of his parents, his mother to whom he is particularly close, and his father, with whom his relationship is more strained. We also see him through Dead Papa Toothwort, a character from local folklore, something of an ancient spirit within the trees who has woken from his slumber. From his home within the woods Toothwort listens to the villagers, taking in everything that happens, as ordinary life in a rural community plays out from the mundane to the extraordinary and everything in between. This was one of the things I loved most in this book, with the snippets of conversation, and snapshots of daily life. The style in which they were written was also really interesting, as the words physically twist and turn through the pages of the book, as Dead Papa Toothwort absorbs this world, until he gets to hear Lanny. In order to encourage and help boost his creativity, Lanny’s parents allow him to spend time with an artist named Pete, and the rapport that builds between the two is another key part to this story that I enjoyed as the plot developed.

From the opening sentences in which we first meet this mystical figure of Dead Papa Toothwort, as he wakes amongst the detritus of human life, I was hooked. I enjoyed the depiction of life in a small village, and the impact of events on the community. As with his debut, there is a haunting, lyrical quality to the writing that helps build up a vivid picture of this world, the intricacy of life that takes place there, and of the boy at the heart of this story. Dead Papa Toothwort is an interesting creation, and a character that is a subject of fascination to Lanny. This added to the whimsical feel of this story, as you are left to wonder whether or not Toothwort is real or just a product of Lanny’s imagination. Either way, his observation of the world around him, the lives that are unfolding, and the experiences of those that have passed before make for an entertaining read which explores love, friendship and creativity.

I thoroughly enjoyed Lanny and found it to be another wonderful story by Max Porter which captures an image of a young boy and the weird and wonderful world around him.

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