I struggled with the opening to this essay. You can’t talk about Max Porter’s book “Grief is the Thing with Feathers” without also talking about Ted Hughes and how in the heck can you talk about Ted Hughes in 2016?
Better to leapfrog to how Ted Hughes’s writing and poetry inspired thousands and thousands to pick up their own pens and/or keyboards.
Max Porter is one of those thousands and thousands.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers (the title being a riff on Dickinson), is a wonderful, sad, funny, insightful story about grief. A father and his two sons lose their wife/mother in a sudden accident and find themselves wandering in a haze. It’s in this haze that Crow shows up and does his job as a very old trickster deity to help this suddenly broken family start the whole “healing” thing.
It was the first page of the book that sold me and made me say “Okay, I’m going to read this whole thing.”
There’s a feather on my pillow.
Pillows are made of feathers, go to sleep.
It’s a big black feather.
Come and sleep in my bed.
There’s a feather on your pillow too.
Let’s leave the feathers where they are and sleep on the floor.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough (though if you have a number of hard feelings about Ted Hughes, you’ll probably want to avoid it).
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll remember griefs you’ve left unresolved and look at them for the first time in a while (maybe a long while).
So… what are you reading and/or watching?
(Featured Image is “Edison’s Telephonoscope” by George du Maurier from Punch Almanack for 1879)