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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 7 April 2019

"Grief is a thing with feathers" by Max Porter

Told in a sort of mix between prose and poetry, from the point of view of the Dad and the Boys (and the Crow), this highly unusual book chronicles what happens to a man and his sons after their wife and mother dies. The grieving process is interrupted by Crow, conjured by the man's obsession with Ted Hughes. Crow is there not until the end of grieving, because grieving never dies, but until the end of hopelessness.

It is a very short book but I read it in just over a single sitting (it would have been a single sitting if I hadn't been interrupted to drive back home from Peterborough).

This is a lyrical evocation of grief and coping, when life must go on but sadness endures.

Great lines:
Part One

  • "I was becoming expert in the behaviour of orbiting grievers." 
  • "Being in the epicentre grants a curiously anthropological awareness of everybody else: the overwhelmeds, the affectedly lackadaisicals, the nothing so fars. the overstayers, the new best friends of hers, of mine, of the boys. The people I still have no fucking idea who they were." 
  • "The whole place was heavy mourning, every surface dead Mum, every crayon, tractor, coat, welly, covered in a film of grief. Down the dead Mum stairs ... down to Daddy's recently Mum-and-Dad's bedroom." 

Part Two:

  • "Many people said 'You need time', when what we needed was washing powder, nit shampoo, football stickers, batteries, bows, arrows, bows, arrows. ... Many people said 'You need time', when what I needed was Shakespeare, Ibn 'Arabi, Shostakovich, Howlin' Wolf."
  • "Some of the time we tell the truth. It's our way of being nice to Dad." 
  • "the village sitting neatly in the cupped hand of the valley."
  • "Once upon a time there was a demon who fed on grief. The delicious aroma of raw shock and unexpected loss came wafting form the doors and windows of a widower's sad home."
  • "There is an area of the kitchen work surface where I lean while the boys eat Weetabix. It is a little way along from the area of the kitchen work surface where my wife used to lean."
  • "If you haven't observed human children after serious quantities of sugar you must. It raises and deranges them, hilariously, for an hour or so, and then they slump. It is uncannily like blood-drunk fox cubs."

Part Three:

  • "We abused him and mocked him because it seemed to remind him of our Mum."
  • "Grief ... is the fabric of selfhood."
  • "He had the perpetual look and demanour of someone floating, turning in the beer-gold light of evening and being surprised by the enduring warmth. A rolled-over shoulder half-squint half-smile. Caught baffled by the perplexing slow-release of sadness for ever and ever and ever."

A beautiful book.

April 2019; 114 pages

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