If you’re the kind of person who flicks through a few pages of a book before you decide to buy it, then you might be put off by Max Porter’s “Lanny”. The way one of the character’s contributions are printed is, shall we say, a little ‘esoteric’; the font is variable, and the words bend and weave across the page in lines that are not always straight – especially as we head towards the end of the first part of the book.
‘Why?’ might be the obvious question.Well, this style – use of font, placing of words on the page, use of white space – succeeds in creating a kind of visual chaos or cacophony which is exactly what the words are trying to represent. I tried to think of another way of achieving the same effect, wondered if a more conventional layout would work – and the conclusion I came to was that it simply wouldn’t.
So the message is: don’t be put off.
Because “Lanny” – whilst in many ways unconventional – is a very good book; one which, in other ways too, uses the way the words are presented to us to enhance their meaning. Each of the three sections is different, in tone, pace and format, all aligned to the narrative being told. It’s really very clever.
I wasn’t entirely convinced by Porter’s “Grief is the thing with Feathers”, but – even if uncomfortable, emotional and challenging at times – “Lanny” is just a great read.