Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers is a short, but powerful read

This book is half novel, half poetry, and entirely emotional

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(Image courtesy of Graywolf Press)

By: Aaron Richardson

Often during periods of mourning, the grief you are experiencing can feel almost physical in its presence. It can feel as if it is following you around, inhabiting the room with you, sitting beside you, and putting a stain on every moment. In Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter turns this feeling into a character. After the death of his wife, a father and his two sons are visited by a creature known only as Crow. Not one for subtlety, Porter tells the story of this family and their time spent with this thing with feathers. Told from the perspectives of the father, the sons, and the crow itself, it is a mix between a typical novel and a book of poetry. Short enough to be read in no more than a couple hours, it is an emotional experience from beginning to end.

     Vulgar, frequently mischievous, and extremely rude, the crow is the perfect personification of grief. Grief is pain. It hurts, and it breaks you down until it seems like there is nothing left to put back together. But it is this pain and destruction that allows you to move on when such an essential part of your life suddenly vanishes into thin air. It is pain, but it is also the start of the healing process.

     This is a novel that brings the reader along the path of healing that this family takes. It’s not an easy experience. If you are lucky enough to have lived without grief, it is a beautifully painful look into the experience one goes through. If you have experienced grief yourself, it may very well be a difficult read. But it is that difficulty that makes the journey worthwhile.