PositiveThe London Review of BooksThe satire – the well-made story – and the equally well-made parody it depends on are only part of Erasure: distractions fly off in all directions ... Erasure is designed to feel like a novel, and Everett uses the whole box of novelistic tricks. The dialogue is disjointed: people are characterised by the questions they choose not to respond to ... Everett’s unfaultable novelistic techniques are performances, but they don’t aim to dazzle. They are modes he speaks in temporarily, like the modes (gangsta, streetwise kid) Monk has tried to speak in, and they take their place among the more spectacular ventriloquising performances scattered through the book.
PositiveThe London Review of BooksAnd yet. However clever this book is, there is a question that I’ve so far avoided directly addressing: isn’t Lanny – with all his funny, silly, offbeat sayings which everyone insists are so adorable – fundamentally just rather embarrassing? ... There is not a chamber in hell hot enough – a reviewer ought to say – for a novel that demands its readers fall in love with some super-cute kid, even if that kid goes scarily missing and makes everyone sad ... Lanny is less simple and more ambitious, encompassing vaster territory, describing an archetype of a village that also represents the whole of England ... Yet this is still a novel which makes the claim that a single unusual child may be the most unimaginably incredible thing in the world. I could ridicule that claim, in my role as cynical old book reviewer, but frankly: I just like Lanny as a principle. And why can’t I? Why can’t I be like Lanny and Lanny’s mum and Pete? Forget the sensible and the boring: why can’t I, if I wish, uncynically care only about what’s wonderful and weird? ... But at this point I wonder: is all this just how I read it? Was this all just my own midsummer night’s dream? Do other people have different dreams? Can you, as with Lanny the boy, project what you want onto Lanny the book? For Toothwort the boy is both ‘a mirror and a key’. If the same is true of the book, it’s a mirror in which you see your own reflection. But what does the key unlock?
RaveLondon Review of BooksWhat’s weird and wonderful about Lanny is that it pays attention to and celebrates all the things ordinary people in an ordinary village say, finding them remarkable ... what’s weirder and more wonderful about Lanny is that it finds a way—with no time wasted—to bring together all the essential signs of England ... It has a simple plot and the right number of likeable people ... the novel does a clever thing: Lanny himself is an absence at the center of the story, always glimpsed from other people’s perspectives; he speaks only in their recollections ... But for all its apparent sentiment about its special, magical boy, Porter’s book is far from being a genre-compliant missing-child narrative. It’s slipperier and more complex. We’ve come to understand that Lanny, when present, is present as a series of effects in people’s minds. And then we find that Lanny, when absent, is a vehicle for people’s fantasies. Everyone’s personal fears and imaginings are projected onto the event of his disappearance ... Lanny is less simple and more ambitious [than Porter\'s previous novel], encompassing vaster territory, describing an archetype of a village that also represents the whole of England ... this is...a novel which makes the claim that a single unusual child may be the most unimaginably incredible thing in the world. I could ridicule that claim, in my role as cynical old book reviewer, but frankly: I just like Lanny as a principle ... the boy is both ‘a mirror and a key’. If the same is true of the book, it’s a mirror in which you see your own reflection.