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Monday, August 12, 2019

Lanny (2019) by Max Porter


Book Review
Lanny (2019) 
by Max Porter

  Lanny is a Booker Prize longlist nominee this year, written by English author Max Porter.   His first book, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, was critically acclaimed, but it didn't make much of a splash over here in the USA- that was in 2015-   it did well enough to get him an international release for Lanny, which was already on Eshelves in the United States when the Booker longlist was announced this year, and thus it's the first of this year's nominees that I managed to track down.  And an Audiobook, no less!   

  It's a good fit for the Audiobook format, with a polyphony of voices revolving around the disappearance of the eponymous Lanny, a Manic Pixie Dream Child who is likely to either enchant or annoy the reader, depending on their feelings about the merits of manic pixie dream children irl.  Lanny lives in a small bedroom village on the outskirts of London, with his City-Trader father, who is also not such a fan of manic pixie dream children himself and his mother- who is a dominant narrative voice in the greek-chorus style Porter embraces.  It's reminiscent of recent price winner Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.

  The fantastical element of the set up involves Dead Poppa Toothwort, an ancient earth spirit who watches the village- leading to dada-esque sequences of overheard dialogue- and malevolently covets Lanny, because, ancient evil spirits, innocent manic pixie dream children.   Unlike many of the reviewers in the UK, I was not charmed.  Which is not to say that Porter is being cloying or sentimental- Lanny is a sharply observed, nasty piece of work that says as much as the environment of a commuter village outside London and the dynamics of the people who live there as the missing boy narrative.


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