Grief is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter is a very clever and engaging book. If you have two or three hours to spare I can recommend it. The subject matter is potentially painful, but the way the book changes points of view from the dad, to his two sons to the crow, representing grief, is very well done. There is pain and humour and a sense of love within the whole family. I think that it is a book that is worth re-reading too, as there are plenty of moments worth savouring, particularly as grief is something I have had to address as life as ticked on.
The author has felt a need to acknowledge the debt to Ted Hughes for the crow character idea, which I understand. I don’t know about you, but it would be nice to read a book that doesn’t have to cross reference other writers and other books. Just tell the perfectly good story as best you can. No need to get all literary on your readers.
As an aside, there are words that I see in poems, for this book is part poetry, part prose (prose poems) that make me wince. If I see another poem that uses the phrase, “a lick of…” I may throw it out of the window, unless the licking is so ordinary, or extra-ordinary that it merits the use thereof. There are an awful lot of bones these days in poetry too, as well as throats and lots of taste of… phrases.
I had some interesting comments on a poem I wrote recently that included the phrase “I caught a flash of frightened girlhood in your brown eyes”. Several of the other writers wanted me to jazz up the brown eyes. Well, I didn’t because they were very beautiful brown eyes and they were beautiful for their distinctive brown colour. Simplicity is poetic too, isn’t it? There was enough in that line already and I did want to distract the reader with ornamentation.
So, today has been a quiet day. Warm enough to have the balcony door open for most of it. Quiet enough to hear the blackbirds calling up the dusk as afternoon wore on.