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Lanny

Length: 4 hrs and 34 mins
5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)
Regular price: £19.99
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Summary

Not far from London, there is a village.

This village belongs to the people who live in it and to those who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England's mysterious past and its confounding present.

It belongs to Mad Pete, the grizzled artist. To ancient Peggy, gossiping at her gate. To families dead for generations, and to those who have only recently moved here.

But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort, who has woken from his slumber in the woods. Dead Papa Toothwort, who is listening to them all. 

Chimerical, audacious, strange and wonderful - a song to difference and imagination, to friendship, youth and love, Lanny is the globally anticipated new novel from Max Porter.

©2019 Max Porter (P)2019 Faber Audio

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Clever Stuff That Took Me Out Of My Comfort Zone!

Well, I fancied something just a little different from my normal audio diet of crime thrillers, historical fiction and a bit of fantasy. This really hit the spot, it's very clever stuff both in the initial writing and the audio production. It doesn't flow in quite the conventional sense. It has a stuttering and staccato style and uses the multiple narrators to represent the thoughts, feelings and emotions of the village setting overall through scattered thoughts and snippets of conversation. It's a powerful and effective technique, often saying much and moving aspects of the story forwards in very few words. The often confused and meandering thoughts of Dead Papa Toothwort are backed by repeating sound effects that add to the ethereal feel of him. If all this sounds difficult to imagine the sample Audible provides includes a snatch of these aspects. Some people might find those sounds effects distracting.

It's a normal English village that's pretty much like any other except that it's home to the three pivotal characters. A retired old artist who finds joy in his later years from his friendship with Lanny, Dead Papa Toothwort who is an ancient and ethereal presence and of course Lanny himself, an enigmatic loner of a child. It's a story of an unlikely friendship and human relations but it is always underpinned by the dread presence of Toothwort.

In truth, it took me a while to quite settle with Porter's style of writing but once I did I found myself massively enjoying the seemingly effortless way it took me on a journey. The clever method using scattered thoughts and snippets of conversation moved the story on cleverly meaning there is much more story in this than the short running time might suggest even if you do have to do some of the work yourself.

Being as different to the norm as this is I am sure it will split opinions but I am very glad that I stayed with it. Bravo Mr Porter for taking me out of my comfort zone!

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Dense with meaning, yet skips along lightly.

Not the kind of thing I would normally read, but I very much enjoyed it. A simple setting and scenario is examined from several perspectives, creating a vivid, self-contained world, in which
ambiguities are created and resolved.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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a download like no other

I was impressed by the sheer originality and verbal power of Max Porter's Grief is the thing with feathers. I'm very glad I ignored the Saturday Times review that slammed Lanny as a tedious re-working of Ted Hughes' Iron Man (wrong) - I loved Lanny. It's not perfect but bursting with experimentation, exuberance and awareness of nature.

Lanny is the young ethereal son of the metrocentric couple who have migrated from London for the elusive English rural village life. Lanny's father is immersed in typically money-orientated life-crushing issues; his baffled mother is on the verge of making it as a (quite nasty) crime writer. Lanny is a bright sprite in tune with nature and all its treasures. His mother arranged for him to have art lessons with local Mad Pete, an idiosyncratic (not mad) artist of repute. Ageing artist and little boy Lanny together have what was once accepted for what it is: a mutually inspiring friendship centred on art and nature. All goes well until Lanny goes missing. That's when the village voices go into overdrive and Mad Pete is arrested.

Crow from 'Grief is the thing with feathers' was centre stage; similar in some ways is Dead Papa Toothwort, a Green Man-myth man of English folklore - here both a real and an unreal presence, a figure who has been part of the village since time immemorial, a commentator on the present day village.

The brilliantly presented voices of the villagers reminded me of Under Milk Wood with a Alan Bennett at his most acid, expressing of-the-moment opinions and thoughts, such as on the mawkish, prurient 'heroes' searching for Lanny. There's a tremendous mix of voices from the very moving desperate terror of Lanny's mother searching for her child to the vituperative, mean-spirited complaining about the parking on the grass when a child is missing.

Part 3 where all is concluded and dead Papa Toothwort takes a central role I found a disappointment. The ethereal other-worldliness was over-done for me and distracted from the very strong, lean first two parts, but the whole production is still worth a 5 for Porter's sheer originality and risk-taking. It was fully exploited by the cast which I think made the whole a better listening experience than a reading one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful