Sending Grief on Holiday by Max Porter
20th August 2015
If I had to send my novella, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, on holiday, then I’d pack these books in its suitcase. They are books which speak of similar concerns. Some of them are directly related to the subject matter; mourning, childhood and poetic obsession. Some of them are by the writers I think of as my permission givers, writers who do things with language and form that have moved or shocked or inspired me. Some of them are books I have loved and returned to many times, such as Angry Arthur, which I consider to be a book of complete perfection. They are all books I would want with me in my shack in the woods, when that time comes. From Hughes’ letter to his son Nicholas explaining his decision to publish Birthday Letters, to the exquisite dismantling of language in Anne Carson’s Nox, these are books which changed the way I think. If anything gathers them all together, from the deep peace and rural quiet of late John McGahern, to the roaring dream-time brilliance of Riddley Walker, it is that these are books which celebrate language. Books which lodge themselves in a reader’s brain and refuse to leave.
Max Porter is a senior editor at Granta Books and Portobello Books. He previously managed an independent bookshop and won the Young Bookseller of the Year award. He lives in South London with his wife and children. Grief is the Thing with Feathers is his first book.