Grief is the Thing With Feathers is a tour de force debut that packs more emotional power and stylistic fireworks into its 114 pages than a lot of novels ten times its size. I got through it in a single sitting but suspect it will resonate with me for far longer than many of the epics weighing down my bookshelf.
It’s a strange book – a cryptic triptych that’s equal parts novella, autobiography and poem. It’s told from three perspectives; a man whose wife has just died suddenly; the boys he now has to raise alone; and the Crow, an imaginary animal the father creates to both represent and channel his grief.
Instead of giving us a typically maudlin meditation on loss, Porter has written a vibrant, inventive and wholly original vision of a family in crisis, which never wastes a word.
Really great stuff.