I have to admit, when I first started reading this book I did stop several times, look at the cover and the blurb and think “What the heck am I reading?”
This is the first Max Porter novel I have read. He has a very interesting way of laying out his prose which baffles the brain at first, but once you adapt to the flow you just float along with the story. The book is broken up into three parts, and each part is told in a different but distinctive way.
Lanny is a young boy with a gift, a very peculiar gift that his parents can’t quite figure out. So Lanny’s mother enlists the help of ‘Pete’ a local grizzled artist to teach the boy and harness some of his ‘eccentricities’. However, a mysterious event soon throws the lives of Lanny’s parents, Pete, and indeed the whole village in to utter chaos. Questions are asked, relationships are closely examined, but what really lies beneath all that goes on in this little village just outside of London.
One aspect of the book I admired was in part two, after the main turning point of the story. This part of the book is told in sporadic paragraphs of peoples thoughts and deeds during the event. It’s not always clear whose thought or deed you’re reading (and it’s not always necessary to know) but through this episodic storytelling you build up a picture not only of what is happening but how the people involved are feeling about it.
This was very cleverly written and the way that Porter plays with words builds up a very vivid image of the events happening in ‘Lanny’. What Porter has shown us is that in order to tell a good story you don’t necessarily have to write in a smooth and progressive way, sometimes you just have to throw words at the pages and see what sticks!