LANNY by Max Porter
Graywolf Press, 2019
This pretty much did nothing for me, but I am inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt as I recognize that I’m in the minority here. I think I may not quite ‘get’ Max Porter, because I felt similarly about Grief is the Thing with Feathers: I appreciated it from a technical standpoint, but I found it utterly devoid of emotionality, which seems a silly thing to say about a pair of books that are about such heavy topics, and which have touched so many other readers, but I just find his writing technically brilliant and at the same time, curiously unaffecting.
What I admired: Again – Porter’s writing is lyrical and assured. I think his descriptive imagery is gorgeous and evocative, and his portrait of small town England was beautifully rendered. And the part of Lanny that did really work for me was the second section, where Lanny goes missing and his search is narrated by a chorus of characters in the town – it’s frantic, tense, and kept me turning pages in a way that I didn’t get from the first or third sections.
What I didn’t: Dead Papa Toothwort dragged this down for me, as I knew he would. I’ve said it so many times I know you all must be getting tired of it, but I don’t like magical realism; I just find that it obfuscates more often than it augments a text. I ultimately just didn’t see the point of this book. I think Porter ruminates on a lot of interesting themes while never really driving any of them home – instead opting for this sort of half-baked mythical angle.
There was a point toward the end where I thought this book was going to ultimately go in a much more sinister direction, which I would have found more thought-provoking and hard-hitting, but the cloyingly sentimental resolution unfortunately made this a rather forgettable read for me. I didn’t hate it, and there were times I was gripped by it, but this was just not my kind of book. A solid 2.5.
You can pick up a copy of Lanny here on Book Depository.