Once upon a time there was a crow, a fairly famous Crow, who wanted nothing more than to care for a pair of motherless children.
In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother's sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness.
In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow - antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This self-described sentimental bird is attracted to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and physical pain of loss gives way to memories, this little unit of three begin to heal.
In this extraordinary debut - part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter's compassion and bravura style combine to dazzling effect. Full of unexpected humour and profound emotional truth, Grief is the Thing with Feathers marks the arrival of a thrilling new talent.
Caroline Baum's Review
Anyone who has lost a loved one, be it a child, partner, friend or parent, will find more consolation in these pages, without having to endure well-meant cliché advice about 'moving on', than in any self-help book.
A man has lost his wife and is left, bereaved, with two young sons to look after. He is a Ted Hughes scholar, writing an analysis of the laureate's poetry. His grieving but richly literate and playful imagination conjures up a Crow, one of Hughes' most powerfully emblematic presences, and this Crow becomes the family's guardian as it stumbles along in sorrow. It sounds grim, but is anything but - there is humour here, and fairy tale like fantasy, making this one of the most charming, original, uplifting books about loss and its aftermath I have ever come across. As a debut, it is nothing short of sensational.
About the Author
Max Porter works in publishing. He lives in South London with his wife and children. Grief is the Thing with Feathers is his first book.