The acclaimed author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers returns with a novel about an ethereal boy named Lanny, whose move to a village outside London awakens Dead Papa Toothwort, a mythical figure with a dark energy that runs through the landscape and lives of the village.
Having achieved so much success, Porter’s second book has a weight of expectation behind it, but he hasn’t disappointed, for Lanny is a fine follow-up, perhaps more accessible than his first while still embracing his unique writing style ... After reading Lanny, I did something I’ve never done before: I read it again. I felt that I would both understand and appreciate it better the second time around and was keen to study how the author managed to lure me in, even spellbind me, with such a magical and singular story ... I suspect Lanny will be a novel I will return to again, simply to absorb the strangeness of the story, the cleverness of the structure, the authenticity of the dialogue and the ethereal mystery that surrounds the book’s titular character. For those who are put off by experimental fiction, and I confess to being one, this is a novel to shatter your prejudices, for Max Porter understands that even the most complex idea must have a decipherable meaning if it is to be of any worth to a reader.
Porter’s second book, Lanny, is every bit as thrilling and bizarre [as his first novel] ... Lanny defies straightforward generic classification, with its shifts between continuous and lineated prose ... Though these strange forms might suggest that Lanny is a difficult book, it is, in fact, eminently readable—partly because of its dreamlike lucidity ... The most jarring aspect of Lanny is the juxtaposition of its fantastical cast of characters (reminiscent of Jim Crace in his stranger moods) and its unapologetically contemporary setting ... It is difficult not to see this as in some sense a 'post-Brexit' book, which dramatizes and critiques a certain idea of national character. Sometimes this is not subtly done ... Lanny is an unabashedly peculiar little book. Some readers may find the strangeness of the form and Porter’s propensity for bizarre metaphors and lavish figurative language off-putting, even pretentious. But for those willing to suspend judgment about what a good novel 'should' look like, it is a magically beguiling work, a triumph of artistic vision.
Max Porter’s second novel is a fable, a collage, a dramatic chorus, a joyously stirred cauldron of words ... Lanny is...remarkable for its simultaneous spareness and extravagance, and again it is a book full of love. It plays pretty close to the edge over which lie the fey and the kooky; anyone allergic to green men may need to take a deep breath. But Porter has no truck with cynicism and gets on, bravely, exuberantly, with rejuvenating our myths ... If the material of modern country life in Lanny feels rather familiar, with its mix of enchantment and ordinariness, emotions flashing out from the creases of routine, Porter’s rendering of it is beguilingly singular, with a freedom and fabular confidence of its own ... It’s not as political commentary or state-of-the-nation study that Lanny speaks most forcefully. It’s the formal inventiveness that will stay in the mind, the shapes and pairings, the sudden eruptions of imagery ... Porter’s writing is poetically concentrated while also deploying a wonderfully common-or-garden kind of language, loved and used, rolling off the tongue. He is a superb writer of children ... There are sections of Lanny that turn too wacky for me ... But Porter is a writer who takes risks, and this is the way new things are made.