Lanny
There’s a village sixty miles outside London. It’s no different from many other villages in England: one pub, one church, red-brick cottages, council cottages and a few bigger houses dotted about. Voices rise up, as they might do anywhere, speaking of loving and needing and working and dying and walking the dogs.This village belongs to the people who live in it and to the people who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England’s mysterious past and its confounding present. But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort, a figure schoolchildren used to draw green and leafy, choked by tendrils growing out of his mouth. Dead Papa Toothwort is awake. He is listening to this twenty-first-century village, to his English symphony. He is listening, intently, for a mischievous, enchanting boy whose parents have recently made the village their home. Lanny.

Lanny Details

TitleLanny
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 7th, 2019
PublisherFaber & Faber
ISBN-139780571340286
Rating
GenreFiction, Magical Realism, Fantasy, Contemporary, European Literature, British Literature, Literary Fiction, Novels, Adult, Family, Drama

Lanny Review

  • Amalia Gavea
    January 1, 1970
    ‘’It would have been the head of a dolphin and the wings of a peregrine, and it would be a storm-watching beast, watching the weather while we sleep.’’ Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers has been on my list for quite some time but for one reason or another, I never seem to find the chance to read it. Lanny was recommended by my personal idol, Jen Campbell, in one of her outstanding videos. I wanted something dark, British and preferably short read to accompany me on my trip to the mo ‘’It would have been the head of a dolphin and the wings of a peregrine, and it would be a storm-watching beast, watching the weather while we sleep.’’ Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers has been on my list for quite some time but for one reason or another, I never seem to find the chance to read it. Lanny was recommended by my personal idol, Jen Campbell, in one of her outstanding videos. I wanted something dark, British and preferably short read to accompany me on my trip to the mountains and Lanny found its place by my side. It is now one of my favourite reads, even endorsed by my partner who is a devotee of Andrić and Márquez. If he is satisfied and I am impressed, Lanny must definitely find a place among your upcoming reads. ‘’ You cannot fix the way the world is broken all on your own.’’ A family of three moves in a village of 50 houses within commuting distance from London. Robert works in the City, Jolie is an actress and an aspiring crime fiction writer and their son, Lanny, is a charismatic boy who loves Art and feels immensely close to nature. Their life is far from easy, though. Financial insecurity, career uncertainty, a father who is mostly absent and a community that is viciously cruel, firmly shut within their microcosm. Even being an actress is considered suspicious. ‘’ What if we said what we really felt?’’‘’There is no such thing as trust. It’s a pernicious myth.’’ In this eerie, beautiful, unique novel, Porter talks about trust, loss, isolation, estrangement. He sheds light on the millennia-old relationship between the human being and nature, between the past and the present, between assumptions and reality, appearance and truth. Lanny is a remarkable child, a boy who weeps over the possibility of another child dying. Jolie is a tender mother but she is also absorbed in her own aspirations and insecurities over her career and the suspicious villagers. Robert is a husband and a father who is simply not there. Troubled, cold, indifferent. He changes and changes and only for the worse. The family is not a shelter but a broken unit and trust cannot be found in this stern community. Those we think we can trust can potentially turn into the greatest threat… ‘’ There’s a girl living under this tree. She’s lived here for hundreds of years. Her parent were cruel to her so she hid under this tree and she’s never come out.’’ Porter writes in a Post-modern style. His prose is dark, ominous, features of stream-of-consciousness are evident throughout. No matter the style, what makes Lanny such a powerful, impressive read is the theme of nature’s influence in the life of a community. Nature acquires a persona, wise and vindictive, in the face of Dead Papa Toothwort, a tree demon. ‘’ A man made entirely of ivy’’, the Green Man who reigns in British Folklore, representing the Old World that is now lost forever. The jewel of the book, in my opinion, the demon contrasted to Lanny who is the angel of our story. In raw, often violent, scenes, Porter makes use of a number of symbols. Skeletons of animals, a Christ without a cross, ghosts, tales, and dangers born out of the forest and its lore. Magic, irrationality, bereavement. Darkness and silence are signs of the coming evil when even the owls are unable to hoot…In fear of saying too much, I will stop here. We often say that there are certain books one needs to read in order to experience the atmosphere of a story unlike any other and Lanny is a glorious example. The musings of the villagers will make you think of Saunder’s Lincoln in the Bardo. The second part of the novel is one of the most ferociously beautiful moments in Literature and the third part is haunting, unadulterated literary lunacy in its finest form. Forget mundane stories and find yourselves in Lanny’s mysterious world for a few unforgettable moments of literary greatness. ‘’ Dead Papa Toothwort has seen monks executed on this land, seen witches drowned, seen industrial slaughter of animals, seen men beat each other senseless, seen bodies abused and violated, seen people hurt their closest, harm themselves, plot and worry or panic and rage, and the same can be said of the earth.’’ My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...
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  • Marchpane
    January 1, 1970
    Just flipping amazing.
  • Emer
    January 1, 1970
    Max Porter is a genius. There is absolutely no way I can think as to how to review or even describe this book. It's pure emotion. Each word has meaning. I cried at the way simple words were put together to form these sentences that just tore their way into my heart. It's contemporary, it's fable, it's dark, it's painful, it's hopeful, it's true. It's unlike anything else. It's simply breathtaking. "Which do you think is more patient, an idea or a hope?"Four and a half stars rounded up to five.
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  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    Odd .. unique... but I’mindifferent to it. Mostly - it hurt my brain.I see the brilliance- respect it - I just don’t have what it takes to read a book like this and honestly - passionately love it.
  • Eric Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    It’s difficult to describe the experience of reading Max Porter’s new novel “Lanny”, but it feels somewhere between “Reservoir 13” by Jon McGregor and an Ali Smith novel. In some ways it’s a simple story of family life in a small English village where a child goes missing. But it’s also about ancient elemental forces which periodically cause widespread chaos and test all the moral fibres which we believe hold our society together. Parents Robert and Jolie want their young son Lanny to develop hi It’s difficult to describe the experience of reading Max Porter’s new novel “Lanny”, but it feels somewhere between “Reservoir 13” by Jon McGregor and an Ali Smith novel. In some ways it’s a simple story of family life in a small English village where a child goes missing. But it’s also about ancient elemental forces which periodically cause widespread chaos and test all the moral fibres which we believe hold our society together. Parents Robert and Jolie want their young son Lanny to develop his inherent artistic sensibility so bring him under the friendly tutelage of an aging famous local artist named Pete. The two develop a touching creative bond. But Lanny harbours many eccentricities and beliefs which centre around a figure of local legend named Dead Papa Toothwort. It’s a mystery whether this character from village lore actually exists in the story or is a figment of the eccentric boy’s imagination, but his presence is felt throughout the book as Toothwort takes in the sounds and voices of the village which physically twist throughout the pages of this novel. It’s a rapturous journey which slides from the emotional details of ordinary life to the deliciously surreal. Read my full review of Lanny by Max Porter on LonesomeReader
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  • Peter Boyle
    January 1, 1970
    Lanny is an unusual little boy. He sings to himself in a made-up language, writes strange letters and hides them in bushes, and builds a shrine full of the treasures he finds on his rambles. His parents don't quite know what to make of him. Not long ago, they all moved to a picturesque town on the outskirts of London - Dad still commutes to his job in the City while Mum works on her debut crime novel. They encourage Lanny to develop his creative side, bringing him to local artist Mad Pete for le Lanny is an unusual little boy. He sings to himself in a made-up language, writes strange letters and hides them in bushes, and builds a shrine full of the treasures he finds on his rambles. His parents don't quite know what to make of him. Not long ago, they all moved to a picturesque town on the outskirts of London - Dad still commutes to his job in the City while Mum works on her debut crime novel. They encourage Lanny to develop his creative side, bringing him to local artist Mad Pete for lessons. But there is a strange presence in the village. An ancient spirit named Dead Papa Toothwort haunts the hedgerows - he is seen out of the corner of an eye, and often blamed for unexplained events in the area. He's a mischievous, scheming individual. And he has his sights set on Lanny.Toothwort is a fascinating creation. He has spent centuries watching the town, observing the rituals of its residents. Porter describes him listening to scraps of their conversations, which swoop and twirl around the page. Most of the locals don't excite Toothwort, "funny busy worker bees of the village stuffing their faces and endlessly rebuilding and replacing things. All they are is bags of shopping and bags of rubbish." But Lanny is different, he is much more in tune with the natural world than the rest of them: "The boy understands. He builds his magical camp in the wood as a gift to them all. They should worship him!" He hones in on Lanny's words and they have an overwhelming effect on him: "Surgical yearnings invade him, he wants to chop the village open and pull the child out. Extract him. Young and ancient all at once, a mirror and a key."Lanny goes missing, and the next part of the story is told in snatches of different voices, exposing rifts and prejudices among the town's inhabitants. Mum and Dad are panic-stricken and feel a mixture of guilt and helplessness. The voyeuristic media camp out out on their lawn, reporting that Lanny's parents "admit he was free to wander the village." Teachers accidentally talk about the boy in past tense, describing him as "off with the fairies."The story builds to a breathtaking climax - I turned the pages frantically to discover Lanny's fate. Max Porter is truly a wizard with words, he writes with the audacity and flair of a poet. Perhaps Lanny himself is bit too precocious and eccentric a child to be completely believable. But this is a minor complaint. Lanny is an endlessly inventive and mysterious story, a worthy follow-up to the superb Grief is the Thing with Feathers.
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  • Gumble's Yard
    January 1, 1970
    I suspect already this will be my favourite book of 2019 - alongside "Spring"One part “Missing Fay” – looking at how a child’s disappearance in a country village exposes class, immigration and town-country divisionsOne-part “Reservoir Tapes” (not “Reservoir 13”) with a chorus of village voices reflecting on that disappearanceOne – perhaps several - parts Ali Smith (with a fey child, of a type that Olivia Laing has called Smith’s “disrupters”; with a beautiful love for language, and with a mix of I suspect already this will be my favourite book of 2019 - alongside "Spring"One part “Missing Fay” – looking at how a child’s disappearance in a country village exposes class, immigration and town-country divisionsOne-part “Reservoir Tapes” (not “Reservoir 13”) with a chorus of village voices reflecting on that disappearanceOne – perhaps several - parts Ali Smith (with a fey child, of a type that Olivia Laing has called Smith’s “disrupters”; with a beautiful love for language, and with a mix of the modern and mundane with the timeless and poetic) One part Max Porter – a book clearly reflecting the author’s ability to mix prose and poetry, to allow words to spill out, over and around pages – something he explored in his debut “A Grief Is a Thing With Feathers” (a book with which I will admit I was unable to connect - but now feel I should revisit)One part – really quite bonkers rural folklore of Green MenAltogether - really quite wonderful.
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  • Paul Fulcher
    January 1, 1970
    The boy understands. He builds his magical camp in the woods as a gift to them all. They should worship him! He is in tune with the permanent, can feel a community’s tensile frame. Do you see? His intuition?Lanny Greentree, your miracle ribs remind me of me.Now Longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize - I suspect and certainly hope, the first prize nomination of many.Max Porter's debut novel Grief is the Thing with Feathers was the most strikingly different of the books on the 2015 Goldsmiths Prize The boy understands. He builds his magical camp in the woods as a gift to them all. They should worship him! He is in tune with the permanent, can feel a community’s tensile frame. Do you see? His intuition?Lanny Greentree, your miracle ribs remind me of me.Now Longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize - I suspect and certainly hope, the first prize nomination of many.Max Porter's debut novel Grief is the Thing with Feathers was the most strikingly different of the books on the 2015 Goldsmiths Prize shortlist, if not my personal favourite, with the memorable character of Crow, the unsentimental view of the grieving process and the multiple narrative forms.Lanny, his second novel, is even more successful (although perhaps a little less formally innovative) and I will be surprised and disappointed if it isn't on the 2019 Goldsmiths shortlist - indeed it contains echoes of many previously shortlisted books (2017s Reservoir 13, 2014 and 2013s works from Ali Smith, 2013s The Wake and of course Porter's own effort) but adds to make something unique and wonderful.Robert Lloyd and his wife are living with their son Lanny in a small (300-house) rural village around an hour's commuting from the City, where Robert commutes each day (exactly what he does there somewhat opaque to the locals - and it felt at times to the author as well).Lanny's mother is an out of work actress (she was in a film with whatsiname from you know and he works in finance the villagers gossip)- her first name, Jolie is associated with her in the second part of the novel when she, in her words, becomes a character in a real-life drama (Time was straight faced, ushering, naming me as a principal character. That way, Jolie Lloyd, away from your son.) - now writing her debut novel, a rather sensationalised thriller, and adjusting, gradually, to rural life: I cursed the naivety of the Londoner moving to the country expecting to find there or in themselves ready-made tranquility. And their son, the eponymous, Lanny is rather unique, literally away with the fairies, in tune with the ancient voices of the land, given to beyond-his-years wise pronouncements, and a free spirit:In comes Lanny clicking and murmuring like the peculiar transmitter device he is.Another villager is a once famous, now elderly artist, Peter - “Mad” Pete to the locals:I don’t think my covering all the trees up by the cricket pitch with plaster-of-Paris after the Great Storm did me any favours.Lanny, his mother and Robert all find comfort in his friendship, Lanny in particular learning art from him.And over and below the village presides the novel's other memorable character, Dead Papa Toothwort, a local variation on the Green ManSay Your Prayers and Be Good To, Or Dead Papa Toothwort is Coming for YouDead Papa Toothwort is as old as the village, listening to and feeding parasitically off the voices of the villagers - Dead Papa Toothwort exhales, relaxes, lolls inside the stoke, smiles and drinks it in: his English symphony - which in the novel literally swirl across the printed page giving us and him a picture of 21st century rural life, warts and all as well as some clues as to what is to come:(e.g. as Marchpane points out in the comments below, we catch a snatch of conversation giving Jolie's name - it's Jolie not Julie, would you believe - one that actually refers to a conversation in the 2nd half of the novel)As Peg, the oldest inhabitant of the village and keeper of memories notes of Papa Toothwort:He’s been here as long as there has been a here. He was young once, when this island was freshly formed. Nobody was truly born here, apart from him. But Dead Papa Toothwort's favourite taste is Lanny's voice - as the quote that opens the review suggests, someone he sees as a kindred spirit. And as the first third of the novel ends, Dead Papa Toothwort decides to make a rare direct intervention, one that will change the lives of the villagers and of Lanny and his family:He has done this before but never with such sincerity. He means this terrible thing. He’s meant it forever. He makes a once-in-a-century effort, whistling his dream into being, setting the village up for its big moment. By the time he gets to the edge of the woods he has crumpled into nothing more than a whiff or a suggestion, he is only silent warm crepuscular danger, and the badgers and the owls have seen this before, and they know not to greet him, but to hide.Highly recommended.
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  • Katie Long
    January 1, 1970
    This book made me feel the way that I did reading The Secret Garden when I was nine years old. That was the first time I understood that reading was magical and essential. I can give a book no higher praise.
  • Neira
    January 1, 1970
    ‘’It would have been the head of a dolphin and the wings of a peregrine, and it would be a storm-watching beast, watching the weather while we sleep.’’ In his folkloric genius of a poem "The Stolen Child", W.B. Yeats coaxes one of his seldomly employed poetic voices to narrate a woeful tale of the human child enticed by faeries to leave the shores of the beguiling human world "more full of weeping than you can understand." Even though this phantasmal, idyllic terrain is yoked by faeries that ar ‘’It would have been the head of a dolphin and the wings of a peregrine, and it would be a storm-watching beast, watching the weather while we sleep.’’ In his folkloric genius of a poem "The Stolen Child", W.B. Yeats coaxes one of his seldomly employed poetic voices to narrate a woeful tale of the human child enticed by faeries to leave the shores of the beguiling human world "more full of weeping than you can understand." Even though this phantasmal, idyllic terrain is yoked by faeries that are willfully menacing and threatening, Yeats does not behoove the poem to pity the child. He, in fact, nudges the reader to wonder if the child indeed would venture into a much better place, howsoever much illusionary, false-hearted and feral it might be, if he lets go of the bitter poison tinted melancholy of the human world. The mythical chanting in the poem lays bare the stage for the dramatic confrontation between nature and nurture, between the world of simple innocence and freedom and the splintered, jagged veins of an asphyxiating human world. Tucked neatly into the narrative of Max Porter's Lanny is an ominous litany that resurfaces like a forgotten wave throughout the course of the story, ladening it with an eerie, melancholic tumult that voices the wistful vandalism that it exults in:"In came the sound of a song, warm on his creaturely breath.My singing childbringing me gifts."Lanny is set in a small unnamed village squatting sixty miles outside London, and narration splits itself generously between four enormously different characters: Jolie and Robert, the former an creatively enervated actor and an aspiring writer, and the latter, a mundane suited city professional, both parents of Lanny, a numinous, precocious boy , gifted with the delightful wisdom of innocence, and Pete, a famous but reclusive artist who finds meaning in life by offering young Lanny art lessons. Apart from the humans, the narrative thread also flows through the coarse, roughened, ageless soul of Dead Papa Toothworth, a homage to folkloric sylvian archetypes, who feasts on the incoherent, torn shards of human voices that reach him from the village, banal in their origins, cursory in their expression and impersonal in their import. Dead Papa Toothworth, of course, takes a particular interest in Lanny, a boy spontaneously genuine in his emotions and actions, wondrously poetic in his curiosity and contemplation, and removed from the phenomenal realities of the world, exploring the music and rhythm of his life amidst nature, the part of the earth hideously and mercilessly abandoned (both in mind and actions) by humans. He worries about the people he might have hurt unconsciously, finds excitement at the prospect of creating a beautiful bower for trees and birds in the forest, asks deeply philosophical questions, and presents words as delicious marvels of opinions. It is his untainted goodness, kindness, compassion, a mind eschewing the concrete conventionality of reality and embrace its mythic texture, a rare spiritual acuity and uninhibited affection for all living forms that sets him apart from the mechanical humanity of his parents and the villagers, and makes him attracted to the sublime, looming power of nature and art, and their enchanting freedom and escapism. The pivot pushing Lanny's story is a spoiler I cannot reveal, but I would say this - Lanny is an extraordinarily brilliant masterpiece worthy of all the adulation and acclaim it has received since its release. It is a novel that is not a face, but only jaws, where the mythic and the domestic, the illusion and reality press their claims upon its fragmentary, stream of consciousness narrative. Seeped in the halcyon of Englishness, the otherworldiness of Nature and the anxiety of the familiar, the book is a powerful critique of the postmodern world, and a fierce indictment of the society and the humans it raises. At the same time, it is also a parable that asks the readers to unshackle themselves from the demands of a time-worn reality, and revel in the magical possibilities of myths, the legends, beliefs and, superstitions as they rediscover the world of imagination and enchantment again.
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  • Dan
    January 1, 1970
    Max Porter’s Lanny is a small gem of a novel: taut, well told, with mounting suspense and interest. Porter knows and works well within his story’s limits. Porter’s portrayal of Lanny and his relationships with his mother and Pete were lovely. Also especially well done is the portrayal of Lanny’s father and his transgressive ambivalence and antagonism towards his son. Papa Toothwort and the village cast of characters were not for me. 3.5 stars
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  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    3.5, rather generously rounded up. Sorry, to all my GR friends who loved this one so much.
  • ns510
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars.”I was depressed when we moved here. I’d been ill after Lanny was born and those feelings came back to me. Empty, shrunken, hunted. I had horrifying dreams. I felt watched the whole time, judged, and even when I walked out into the fields and woods I felt scrutinised. And then I cursed the naïvety of the Londoner moving to the country expecting to find there or in themselves ready-made tranquillity.”Today I read Lanny by Max Porter and I’m glad I did - it’s brilliant! Inventive and wri 4.5 stars.”I was depressed when we moved here. I’d been ill after Lanny was born and those feelings came back to me. Empty, shrunken, hunted. I had horrifying dreams. I felt watched the whole time, judged, and even when I walked out into the fields and woods I felt scrutinised. And then I cursed the naïvety of the Londoner moving to the country expecting to find there or in themselves ready-made tranquillity.”Today I read Lanny by Max Porter and I’m glad I did - it’s brilliant! Inventive and written in spare but luminous prose, it reads like folklore of old, like a fable removed and being told by an unseen chorus, even as it centers around a modern married couple who has moved from the city to a small village in rural Britain. Each have their own issues, leading to collective issues, even as they are meant to look after their young son, an imaginative, happy boy who comes across different and almost otherworldly, ‘away with the fairies’. He is often left to his own devices, or with a local artist of renown. It’s a book that won’t take long to read, yet manages to convey so much - small communities, blame and othering, marriage and families, grief and regrets and tragedy and its fleeting-ness in the hands of media and the speed of today’s news, and so much more, all while evoking a depth of feeling. It reminded me a bit of two other books I really enjoyed; Jesse Ball’s Census and George Saunders’ Lincoln In The Bardo. Would recommend 👌🏽
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  • Marcus Hobson
    January 1, 1970
    This ranks up there with the best books I have ever read. The ending is so full of tension that it made me miss whole paragraphs in my anxiety to find out what had happened. I had to go back and read some parts a second time. When people say ‘it left me breathless’ it is almost always a cliché. With Lanny it was a physical symptom, breathlessness, heart palpitations, shaking. It really was that good. Not everyone will think that. It will not speak to everyone, but it spoke to me. It whispered an This ranks up there with the best books I have ever read. The ending is so full of tension that it made me miss whole paragraphs in my anxiety to find out what had happened. I had to go back and read some parts a second time. When people say ‘it left me breathless’ it is almost always a cliché. With Lanny it was a physical symptom, breathlessness, heart palpitations, shaking. It really was that good. Not everyone will think that. It will not speak to everyone, but it spoke to me. It whispered and it shouted and I loved every minute of it.Lanny is full of mythology and folklore. At the centre are two characters, a little boy called Lanny and Dead Papa Toothwort, the modern-day embodiment of the Green Man, the forest dwelling wildman of ghost stories and ways to frighten children to bed. The little boy is exceptional; creative, magical and sometimes terrifying in his ability to vanish from right next to his parents. He collects shells and rocks, moss and sticks, and anything that interests him, takes it home and labels it, writes stories and little books of spells and chants. In this way Lanny comes to the attention of Dead Papa Toothwort. I love the way that Max Porter has recreated this figure of mediaeval myth. He is no longer out there living in the woods, he in the drains, the electricity and the bathwater, in the beer pumps at the pub, the school books and the church bell. He “divides and reassembles, coughs up a plastic pot and a petrified condom”. Not so much a being as a presence, a smell on the wind or breath in the air. This is the Green Man re-imagined for the 21st Century, with all its technologies and Marvel movies.Little Lanny is so creative that his parents allow him to have art lessons with Pete, Mad Pete people call him, local artist, celebrity artist even, with a studio full of sculptures of reassembled bird skeletons covered in gold leaf. The two form a bond, a recognition of each other’s otherness. You can feel the happiness of the family and their life in the village.All this is beautifully written. Stunning descriptions, such as a village hall as Lanny’s Mum “breaths in the cold stale air of the hall, all the christenings and eighteenths and retirements and jubilees and anniversaries; the wakes, the parent and toddler mornings. She breathes in the fresh particles of generations of villagers before her and it tastes like mould and wet tweed.” It is inventive too. Dead Papa Toothwort listens to the village, rather like listening to the village in Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. It speaks to him, but the lines are muddled together, sprawling across the pages in lines that snake and curve and flow outside the margins of the pages. These become so confused that eventually some are printed over the top of others, blurring what is said. Unique, perhaps. I have certainly never seen it before.There are three sections to the book, and once you turn the pages into the second section, the whole book changes. I don’t want to say too much about what happens in that second half, in case I spoil anyone’s enjoyment.I’ll leave you with a hint from Dead Papa Toothwort:“He whistlers his song, and the song is a set of private instructions…He has done this before but never with such sincerity. He means this terrible thing. He’s meant it forever. He makes a once-in-a-century effort, whistling his dream into being, setting the village up for its big moment. By the time he gets to the edge of the woods he has crumpled into nothing more than a whiff or a suggestion, he is only silent warm crepuscular danger, and the badgers and the owls have seen this before, and they know not to greet him.”Spoiler alert: here is a little more if you need it.(view spoiler)[ In the second half of the book Lanny disappears. He has done it before, but this time it is for days. Mad Pete is questioned by the police, accused of being a paedophile, and the whole village is out searching. Pages and pages are filled with comments, every different perspective is explored and articulated. Business is booming in the pub. People are skeptical about Lanny’s father Robert and his flash car. Even more skeptical about his mother Jolie and her abilities as a mother. She must be the most bankable crime writer with a novel waiting to be published.And then we move into a dream sequence. People might think this is the weakest part of the book, moving too far from what might be real. But no, in many ways it is the best. Dead Papa Toothwort brings them to the village hall and puts on a show, a test first for Pete, then Robert and finally Jolie. Pete passes, Robert fails and it is all down to Jolie. Gradually Toothwort leads her to the bower that Lanny built, and finally to the deep concrete drain out in the woods. He shows her the fall inside, lets her hear the calling and the sobbing, and then we are out there rushing towards the place. Is he alive, has it been too many days without food or water?And the final narration, nosy old Peggy who died watching from her cottage gate, and sees into the future to give us a longer sense of ending.“He has tried to lose the memory of Dead Papa Toothwort. Like the last speaker of any language he had had to forget in order to survive, but some knowledge of it lives in his marrow.” (hide spoiler)]
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  • Joachim Stoop
    January 1, 1970
    4,5The fact that...even in this outerworldly feast of wordsthrough gossip, blabla and the best and worst side of la condition humaine,over and under and around branches and leaves and mud,with wildness and linguistic wilderness blocking my view, thus only catching a glimpse,I could still love, really, realisticly love this little boy Lanny, ...is a huge achievement by Porter. In kind of the same correlating mix of form, language, story, fable and multiple voices,it is a lot better than Lincoln a 4,5The fact that...even in this outerworldly feast of wordsthrough gossip, blabla and the best and worst side of la condition humaine,over and under and around branches and leaves and mud,with wildness and linguistic wilderness blocking my view, thus only catching a glimpse,I could still love, really, realisticly love this little boy Lanny, ...is a huge achievement by Porter. In kind of the same correlating mix of form, language, story, fable and multiple voices,it is a lot better than Lincoln and Fox8 by George Saunders. It's also more accomplished than Porter's own (fine) debut
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  • Joanna Flis
    January 1, 1970
    Yes, he did it again.
  • Katia N
    January 1, 1970
    I do not have time to write proper reviews at the moment, but just briefly - this is a wonderful little gem. I've picked it up in a bookshop and just could not put it down. It combines lightness and darkness, playfulness of language, but contains profound social observations as well. Thematically it is a trope explored recently in some other English novels - missing child and the reaction to the disappearance of a tight small village community. See Reservoir 13 or Missing Fay. But this book is g I do not have time to write proper reviews at the moment, but just briefly - this is a wonderful little gem. I've picked it up in a bookshop and just could not put it down. It combines lightness and darkness, playfulness of language, but contains profound social observations as well. Thematically it is a trope explored recently in some other English novels - missing child and the reaction to the disappearance of a tight small village community. See Reservoir 13 or Missing Fay. But this book is giving a totally different spin on a story using very different language tools.I won't mention the characters or the plot. Though they are very well developed for such a short novel. I will focus a bit more on a way how it is written as i found it amazingly successful. There are 3 very distinctive parts. The first part is the most experimental: it integrates the snippets of the unrelated sentences told by different people into the whole. These snippets are presented on the page as a coiled warped fragments. The impression is wonderfully wholesome. It is like while walking briskly on the street you overhear sometimes just small bits of different conversations and it all merges into the whole rhythmical music in your mind. But here there is a visual effect as well. In such a way a special poetic voice for the group of people is created. The next part is the chorus of the voices. It reminded me a bit Lincoln in the Bardo, but also there is a social dimension to it. And the last part is very moving and philosophic at the same time raising the question about what the ending of a story actually might mean. There is a scene which reminded me the Woland's ball in [book:The Master and Margarita. Overall, there was a connection there for me between these two books how the evil sometimes plays the role of the good (or at least the role of a fair judge...).It is different from the Porter's first book Grief is the Thing with Feathers. In some ways one might consider it is simpler. But I enjoyed it more. Such a great treat of imagination.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    Lanny is the kind of odd kid who asks questions like “Which do you think is more patient, an idea or a hope?” and builds a bower in the woods “for the whole village and anyone who finds it … to make them fall in love with everything.” His mum Jolie, a crime writer, celebrates Lanny’s uniqueness, but his dad Robert, “a lean mean commuting machine” and fairly stereotypical laddish sort, doesn’t really understand him. Jolie arranges for Lanny to have art lessons from Pete, whom many in the village Lanny is the kind of odd kid who asks questions like “Which do you think is more patient, an idea or a hope?” and builds a bower in the woods “for the whole village and anyone who finds it … to make them fall in love with everything.” His mum Jolie, a crime writer, celebrates Lanny’s uniqueness, but his dad Robert, “a lean mean commuting machine” and fairly stereotypical laddish sort, doesn’t really understand him. Jolie arranges for Lanny to have art lessons from Pete, whom many in the village mostly affectionately refer to as Mad Pete. But when Lanny goes missing a witch hunt ensues, unearthing a lot of the ugliness that was buried underneath the villagers’ everyday quirkiness – as put across in the fragments of their speech that Dead Papa Toothwort, a sort of incarnation of the quintessentially English figure of the Green Man, hears as he rambles around the edges of the village. These snatches of speech reminded me of the style of Lincoln in the Bardo. Inventive, certainly, but by the end I found myself wondering, what was the point of it all? [Warning: gratuitous scene of violence towards an animal.]Favorite lines:“he’s not a normal child, he is Lanny Greentree, our little mystery … he had a kind of magic, we all accepted he was enigmatic and special.”the coy introduction to the last few pages: “False things, endings. Sustenance for fools and never what they claim to be. Nevertheless.”
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  • Jaclyn Crupi
    January 1, 1970
    Max Porter is as exciting and inventive a storyteller as George Saunders and Sarah Moss. He wants to tell us about the past and try to shed light on the confounding present. It’s miraculous.
  • Robert Lukins
    January 1, 1970
    Yep, it really is very, very good.
  • jeremy
    January 1, 1970
    which do you think is more patient, an idea or a hope? the follow-up to his deservedly acclaimed debut, grief is a thing with feathers, max porter's lanny is a richly imagined, charming, and utterly enrapturing novel. mingling fantastic storytelling, wholly lovable (if flawed) characters, and the same empathy and depth of feeling that allowed his first novel to shine so brightly, lanny is both playful and profound. beauty is what, my semi-synthetic friend? illness, decay and exploitation? a tap which do you think is more patient, an idea or a hope? the follow-up to his deservedly acclaimed debut, grief is a thing with feathers, max porter's lanny is a richly imagined, charming, and utterly enrapturing novel. mingling fantastic storytelling, wholly lovable (if flawed) characters, and the same empathy and depth of feeling that allowed his first novel to shine so brightly, lanny is both playful and profound. beauty is what, my semi-synthetic friend? illness, decay and exploitation? a tapestry of small abuses, fights and littering, lake-loads of unready chemicals piped into my water bed, greed and decline, preaching teaching crying dying and walking the fucking dogs, breeding and needing and working and... although even the most cursory of plot summaries would reveal far too much about the story, suffice it to say that porter's new novel ducks and turns in surprising ways. the (very soon-to-be former) editorial director of granta books is possessed with quite the literary talent, and with now two resounding works under his belt, one can ardently hope there are so many more to come. porter's fiction contains an increasingly rare verve, imbued as it is with an easy grace, effortless style, and an endearing, enduring wonder at human possibility and potential. dead papa toothwort has seen monks executed on this land, seen witches drowned, seen industrial slaughter of animals, seen men beat each other senseless, seen bodies abused and violated, seen people hurt their closest, harm themselves, plot and worry or panic and rage, and the same can be said of the earth. he has seen the land itself cut apart, its top layer disembowelled, stripped and re-plundered, sliced into tinier pieces by wire, hedges and law. he has seen it poisoned by chemicals. he has seen it outlive its surgeons, worshippers and attackers. it holds firm and survives the village again and again and he loves it. he wouldn't do well in a wilderness. 4.5 stars
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  • Christoph Segers
    January 1, 1970
    Het eerste deel van dit boek, dat uit drie delen bestaat, is als een zachte massage voor wie van taal houdt. Een warm bad vol mooie woorden, leuke vondsten, knappe observaties. De verschillende protagonisten geven je een inkijk in de kleine wereld van een dorpje en hoe hun levens daarin passen of net niet. De meest bevreemdende stem is die van een oude bosgeest die allerlei zaken (letterlijk en figuurlijk) oppikt. Die kronkelende zinnetjes zijn vaak kortverhalen op zich en hebben me meermaals do Het eerste deel van dit boek, dat uit drie delen bestaat, is als een zachte massage voor wie van taal houdt. Een warm bad vol mooie woorden, leuke vondsten, knappe observaties. De verschillende protagonisten geven je een inkijk in de kleine wereld van een dorpje en hoe hun levens daarin passen of net niet. De meest bevreemdende stem is die van een oude bosgeest die allerlei zaken (letterlijk en figuurlijk) oppikt. Die kronkelende zinnetjes zijn vaak kortverhalen op zich en hebben me meermaals doen grinniken... Kleine traktaties in een al overvolle snoepdoos.In het tweede deel is de toon heel anders. Er is iets gebeurd (waar het eerste deel vooral kabbelend kennismaken is) en iedere dorpsbewoner heeft zijn of haar mening. De snel wisselende PoV's houden je als lezer bij de les en zijn zo uitgekiend dat door enkele rake zinnen uit een hele conversatie tussen twee mensen ergens in een huiskamer over wat er zich (mogelijks) heeft voorgedaan je de rest er zelf kan bij verzinnen. Je krijgt een rijk pallet aan meningen voorgeschoteld waarin enkele rode draden zitten, maar waar vooral het universele de bovenhand krijgt. De wanhoop van de ouders is tastbaar, als lezer kan je vermoeden wat er is gebeurd afhankelijk van je eigen visie (ben jij een realist of kies je eerder voor de 'magische' kant...)In het derde deel neemt het magisch-realisme de bovenhand. Dit zal wellicht niet een kolfje naar ieders hand zijn. Denk David Lynch-achtige toestanden, alles is meta. Toch leidt dit naar een zeer verrassend einde...Een recensente in een Vlaamse kwaliteitskrant las in dit boek een aanklacht tegen de Brexit, tegen de klimaatverandering en een dierlijke moeder-zoonrelatie. Iemand zonder politiek gekleurde bril zal een boek lezen over een gezin waarin de ouders niet meer gelukkig zijn, de vader vlucht in zijn werk en de moeder op zoek gaat naar een nieuwe partner en daarvoor haar zoon handig inzet. Dit zijn geen spoilers... Want dit boek is zoveel meer dan deze synopsis. Lezen en genieten is de boodschap!
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 rounded down (for now)
  • Tom Mooney
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely superb. Playful, insightful, magical and subtle. A brilliant depiction of village life as well as a gripping story. It's hard to say too much more about it without giving spoilers.Imagine Broadchurch rewritten by George Saunders and Cynan Jones.
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  • Kirsty
    January 1, 1970
    I listened to this on audio, and found the use of a cast so effective. I loved the chorus of the villagers’ voices blended with the more in-depth stories; this was a simple yet clever technique, which I feel worked really well. Porter’s prose is beguiling, and there is a richness, a texture to it. So immersive, and so very wonderful.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    It is a regular commuter village sixty odd miles from the capital. All sorts of mixed housing, a pub and a church and people trying to go about their lives as normally as possible. In this village is a young lad called Lanny, who is not quite the same as other children his age. He seems to have a close affinity to the natural world, spending most of his time outdoors. His mother thinks the world of his, seeing his funnies little ways as a charming thing whereas his father struggles to deal with It is a regular commuter village sixty odd miles from the capital. All sorts of mixed housing, a pub and a church and people trying to go about their lives as normally as possible. In this village is a young lad called Lanny, who is not quite the same as other children his age. He seems to have a close affinity to the natural world, spending most of his time outdoors. His mother thinks the world of his, seeing his funnies little ways as a charming thing whereas his father struggles to deal with him. Lanny’s creative side is channelled by a neighbour called Pete who is an artist who sees the potential that he has.Then there is Dead Papa Toothwort. In this place, he is as old as time.He is the very essence of the land that the village sits in, he feels it every time they cut the soil to build, and watches as the village celebrates him by dressing up and the pictures that they try to recreate. He has seen the death of thousands of living beings. He is known as the Green Man now, but there is nothing benign about him. He listens to the words the people say in the village, they wash over him like rain, but he has heard Lanny’s songs and it has awoken something in him.Then one day, Lanny disappears…And I am not going to say any more than that, as I think you all should read it and make your own minds up. The book is split into three parts, the first is a whimsical introduction to the main characters. The second is as fast-paced as anything that I have ever read and the final part is dramatic, surreal and shocking. It is a story deeply rooted in the folklore of the landscape as well as brushing the edges of folk horror. I liked Porter’s first, Grief is a Thing with Feathers, but in my mind, this book is better than that. It has a much stronger plot, vivid characters and a dark undercurrent that pulls it all together. Great stuff.
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  • LindaJ^
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this quirky, little book. It tells the story of a small village, the resident magical creature - Dead Papa Toothwart, a small boy named Lanny, Lanny's mother, Lanny's father, and the old artist of some renown - Mad Pete - who becomes fast friends with Lanny. The story is quite complex. We learn, in quite experimental ways, what the townspeople are like through what they gossip about as heard by Dead Papa Toothwart. We learn about Lanny from his mother, his father, and Mad Pete. I really enjoyed this quirky, little book. It tells the story of a small village, the resident magical creature - Dead Papa Toothwart, a small boy named Lanny, Lanny's mother, Lanny's father, and the old artist of some renown - Mad Pete - who becomes fast friends with Lanny. The story is quite complex. We learn, in quite experimental ways, what the townspeople are like through what they gossip about as heard by Dead Papa Toothwart. We learn about Lanny from his mother, his father, and Mad Pete. There is an incident that brings out the best and the worst in people. An incident caused by Dead Papa Toothwart. I really like this book. It gets five stars because the story is good and told in a very creative way. If you want to know how this book is written, read Paul's review -- https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... .
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  • Jessica Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    An eerie, imaginative, fable-like story about a small English town and one of the families that lives there. Told in a chorus of often indistinct and overlapping voices reminiscent of George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. A lyrical meditation on family and community that’s steeped in English folklore: at its center, an unusual boy named Lanny and a mythical figure known as Dead Papa Toothwort who spends his time listening to the town and finally responds to Lanny in the most unexpected of ways. An eerie, imaginative, fable-like story about a small English town and one of the families that lives there. Told in a chorus of often indistinct and overlapping voices reminiscent of George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. A lyrical meditation on family and community that’s steeped in English folklore: at its center, an unusual boy named Lanny and a mythical figure known as Dead Papa Toothwort who spends his time listening to the town and finally responds to Lanny in the most unexpected of ways.Porter’s command of language and form is incredible. If you’re in the mood for something dark and weird, this one’s for you.
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  • Ana
    January 1, 1970
    “False things, endings. Sustenance for fools and never what they claim to be.Nevertheless.” ⇝ 2.5 stars
  • WndyJW
    January 1, 1970
    I love this book! Rarely do I read a book that makes feel I have stumbled upon a treasure, a book that makes me feel almost light headed as I read because what the author has done is so perfect. Lanny is enchanting, mythical, mystical, whimsical, frightening, and so very satisfying. Max Porter is a genius and I wish I could thank him for what feels like a gift to me.
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