I recently picked up this book by Max Porter which was lying around in the office. I am not usually one to read about death, or grief, or anything too sad, as my own life has had its fair share of sadness and actually, death is one of my pet fears (aren’t we all a bit scared of death?) but I’d been told that it was good so I gave it a shot.
This is Porter’s début, and wow is it an incredible one. The book tells of a Ted Hughes scholar and father of two boys who has recently lost his wife. In his grief-stricken state he becomes obsessed with a crow which represents his grief and his damaged psyche.
Impossible to define as a particular genre, Porter’s book flits between experimental language and poetic prose to show the reader the visceral pain of loss and grief.
In this compact novella Crow is an acerbic, yet strangely sentimental observer and participant in the grief of the young family. He stays with them until they heal and no longer need him.
Porter’s polyphonic narrative is peculiar yet enchanting. It is darkly comic, searingly beautiful and painfuly true to the realities of losing someone you love.
One of my favourite lines in the whole book is: “Everybody passing could comprehend how much I miss her. How physical my missing is.”
I loved this bizarre little book, and it also has inspired me to seek more of Ted Hughes’ work. In particular I love the name of the cover illustrator: Eleanor Crow. How appropriate.