torsdag den 3. november 2016

Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter



Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter. Published in 2015 by Faber&Faber. 6/6 



Please remember I am your Ted's song-legend, Crow of the death-chill, please. The God-eating, trash-licking, word-murdering, carcass-desecrating math-bomb motherfucker, and all that. 

Hvordan reagerer man, når man oplever noget så smertefuldt som at miste sin mor eller kone? Hvordan håndterer man den absolutte gru og frustration over at miste en, man elsker? Og hvordan skriver man om det?

Da to brødre mister deres mor, står de pludselig alene tilbage med deres far, som - ligesom dem selv - befinder i en dyb kløft af chok og sorg. I deres allermest skrøbelige tilstand får de besøg af Crow, en bevinget sort drillepind, som er draget til den sørgende familie og som truer med at blive hos dem, indtil de ikke længere har brug for ham.

I find all humans dull except in grief. There are very few in health, disaster, famine, atrocity, splendour or normality that interest me (interest ME!) but the motherless children do. Motherless children are pure crow. For a sentimental bird it is ripe, rich and delicious to raid such a nest.

Crow er brutal og ærlig, og han mobber konstant drengene og deres far, men han er også deres barnepige og beskytter. På mange måder minder han om en mørk, råd-lugtende Mary Poppins. 

Grief is the Thing with Feathers er ikke kun en roman om sorg, det er også en roman om, hvordan man skriver om sorg, og hvordan man skriver sig ud af sorg. Og det er let at læse Crow som en metafor for forfatterens egen psyke; en udvej og en måde at få al snavset og hadet ud af systemet, men en sådan betragtning synes jeg næsten ville være et gøre Crow til skamme, som med sin stærke, skæve og hårde karakter alligevel blidt lægger sine vinger over den sørgende familie. 
Bogen er fortalt i små dele af enten "Boys", "Dad" eller "Crow" og den har ikke en konstant ensartet form. Prosa og lyrik blandes sammen, mens virkelige og opfundne ord sættes sammen. Og når man inkluderer alle de litterære referencer (fx titlens reference til Emily Dickinsons "Hope is the thing with feathers"), som er strøet ud over det hele, resulterer det i en smuk bog, der vibrerer af håbløshed, kærlighed, død og liv. 

She was not busy dying, and there is no detritus of care, she was simply busy living, and then she was gone.

Siden jeg læste den, har jeg ikke skiftet mening, og som jeg skrev under efterårets readathon, hvor jeg læste bogen, er Grief is the Thing with Feathers den bog, jeg ville ønske, jeg selv havde skrevet, fordi den har alt det, jeg værdsætter allermest i litteraturen, og den er skrevet på så usandsynlig smuk en måde, at det gør ondt i mig. 






ENGLISH BELOW
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Please remember I am your Ted's song-legend, Crow of the death-chill, please. The God-eating, trash-licking, word-murdering, carcass-desecrating math-bomb motherfucker, and all that. 

How do you react to something as painful as losing your wife/mother? How do you cope with the horror and desolation of losing a loved one? And how do you write about it? 

After the death of their mother, two young brothers and their father are left behind in a state of shock and grief. At their most fragile they are visited by Crow, a black trickster who is drawn to the grieving family and who threatens to stay until he is not needed anymore. 

I find all humans dull except in grief. There are very few in health, disaster, famine, atrocity, splendour or normality that interest me (interest ME!) but the motherless children do. Motherless children are pure crow. For a sentimental bird it is ripe, rich and delicious to raid such a nest.

Crow is brutal and honest and he is constantly mocking the boys and their dad, but he is also their babysitter and caretaker. In a way he is much like a dark and ill-smelling Mary Poppins.


Grief is the Thing with Feathers is not just about mourning, it is also very much about how to write about grief and maybe even write your way out of it as well. And it's easy to interpret Crow as a metaphor for the writer's own psyche; an escape and way to get all the fifth and dirt out of the writer's system. However, I think that such a reading would be a shame as the tough-loving, cynical Crow, who softly takes the family under his wings, is such a strong character. 
The book is told in small bits by "Boys", "Dad" or "Crow" and there is no consistency in the form. Prose and poetry is mixed while real and made-up words are combined. And when you add all the literary references (e.g the title's reference to Emily Dickinson's "Hope is the thing with feathers"), which are scattered everywhere, to that, the result is a stunning book bursting with hopelessness, love, death and living.

She was not busy dying, and there is no detritus of care, she was simply busy living, and then she was gone.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers is the kind of book I wish I had written. It has all the things I love the most about literature and it's written in such a beautiful and heartbreaking way that hurts inside. 

6 kommentarer:

  1. Den bliver julegave ønsket!

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  2. Hi Ida,
    I like crows, these large, intelligent, black birds. On my jogging rounds, I always communicate with them.
    The book is written fantastically well. I started for reading, and I could not stop anymore. In the beginning, I had a deja-vu. The arrival of the crow reminded me immediately of E.A. Poe’s poem "The Raven" and of Edward Gorey’s short story "The Doubtful Guest." But unlike these Max Porters novel comes to an optimistic end. Poe’s poem has a long introductory phase until the door, and the window was opened:
    “That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; - Darkness there, and nothing more.”
    And then the raven arrived:
    “Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.”
    In the “The Doubtful Guest” the arrival of the strange guest takes place immediately at the beginning of the story:
    “When they answered the bell on that wild winter night, there was no one expected – and no one in sight. Then they saw something standing on top of an urn, whose peculiar appearance gave them quite a turn.”
    That is much faster. Max Porter does it even so.
    Now compare the ends of these three works:
    Poe wrote:
    “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted – nevermore!”
    The Doubtful Guest ends with:
    It came seventeen years ago – and to this day it has shown no intention of going away.”
    There is not any hope in both cases. Max Porter's novel is very contrary, it gives hope. After reading his book in English, I was turned up. Have I properly really understood all sentences? The speech of Max Porter is very expressive. I bought the German ebook, converted it into a pdf-file and let my laptop reading it aloud. Yes, no doubt, I have the most accurately interpreted.
    Max Porter's book leads me to Ted Hughes “Crow.” I googled Ted Hughes, and found his poem “Crow Blacker Than Ever.” This sight is very familiar to me, I have the same, and I was remembered on Stephen Crane’s “Black Riders.” I believe, I must have Ted Hughes “Crow” too.
    In your post “Månedens gang: Oktober” you wrote “The best book I've read… it completely blew me away.” That’s true, I feel even so. At my next jogging rounds, I’ll tell the crows from Max Porter. Thank you for representing the novel. If I had read the book without your warm words, there I am not sure in such a way.
    Best regards
    Wolfgang

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    Svar
    1. Hello Wolfgang,

      Thank you for your comment. I always enjoy your comments immensely.
      Firstly, I'm so glad that you liked it! Secondly, I'm very intrigued by the comparisons you draw. To me, the image of the crow also made me think of Poe, but I never thought of comparing the stories like you do. It is very interesting how similar they begin (although the pace is obviously different). But as I think I mention in my review, one of the things that I really like about the story is the intertextuality and the references to a long tradition of literary works. I always find that extremely fascinating, even though I know I'll never know all the references.

      I've been told that Ted Hughes "Crow" is even better than "Grief is the thing with feathers". I find that hard to believe because I liked it so much, but it definitely means that I will have to read it as well.

      I hope you'll say hey to crows from me on your next jog.

      All the best!
      Ida

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