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.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers is a novella with 3 POVs: Crow, Dad, The Boys. I was drawn into reading this after hearing wonderful reviews about it. I didn’t really know what it was entirely about other than the fact it revolved around the theme of grief and it somehow linked to Ted Hughes’ famous work Crow.
So I picked this up at my local bookstore and immediately I loved the writing style of this book. It consists of short passages from each POV that brings us a new perspective on grief. Crow happens to be the product of the family’s imagination that manifests in helping them cope with the Mother’s death. This book captures the essence of grief and how difficult it is to cope with it. You can’t help but to feel sorrow and heartbroken reading the Boys and Dad’s monologues surrounding the death of the Mother. From little boys to grown up young men, we’re shown how the death of their mom affected their emotional well being as they grew up. The Dad felt like he lost his other half and spent his entire life grieving for his lost partner. And the Crow is there the entire time to make sure this family comes to terms with their grief and learn not to be hopeless anymore in spite of it.
This book had the nice balance of emotional burden, humour and happiness. Some parts of the book had me chuckling, especially the dialogues between Crow and Dad. Though this book was wonderfully written, I can’t say I loved this book to death. I didn’t, or rather couldn’t, grasp how or why this book blew away everyone’s minds. I have experienced my own grief when my maternal grandmother passed away when I was 12, so my lack of enjoyment is not from the lack of grieving experience. But rather, the book just wasn’t for me and I couldn’t connect with the book emotionally.
I still enjoyed this as a whole, and I believe that if you are looking for an unconventional novella that questions how to cope with grief, this is definitely for you!