Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Reviews

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Reviews

Article excerpt

BOOK OF THE WEEK Grief Is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter Publisher: Faber & Faber Price: Hardback PS10, ebook PS6.65 IN THIS his debut novel, Max Potter's poetic characterisations show a deep understanding of human emotion. Potter tells one family's journey through grief in three first-person narratives; that of Dad, of The Boys, and of grief anthropomorphised as a crow who lives with them as they struggle to take stock of their new lives.

Through lyrical prose, the parties grapple with the idea of grief, as Crow visits the individuals in very different ways. The boys express confusion as they discover the black calling-card feathers of Crow on their pillows. By contrast, their father feels his spiteful, incessant clawing and despairs as the bird heartlessly mocks his sorrow.

Porter adeptly examines the way we understand grief and deal with loss over time in a beautifully bittersweet manner through writing so natural that Dad's grief feels startlingly personal. However it is in Crow's omniscience that his writing really succeeds, and though you often hate the unwanted visitor, his twisted support is understandable and strangely desired.

A stunning examination of mourning, this is a difficult yet compelling read.

Rating ....

FICTION The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves Publisher: Macmillan Price: Hardback PS16.99, ebook PS6.59 OVERWEIGHT, middle-aged detective Vera Stanhope seems an unlikely heroine.

But the dishevelled sleuth has won millions of fans through Ann Cleeves' gritty crime thrillers, and the TV adaptation starring Brenda Blethyn.

In the seventh and latest book, Vera is investigating a double murder in a sleepy Northumberland village.

The victims make an unlikely pair, with one a fresh-faced graduate and the other an older 'grey man' - and no obvious connection between the two. There are no gimmicky plot devices here, as Cleeves - also author of the popular Shetland series which has been adapted for television too - shows she is the master of innuendo, smooth prose and deeply drawn characters.

Equally enjoyable is the sub-plot, poking fun at 'retired hedonists' in their 60s who party harder than their children.

If there is a successor to Ruth Rendell's alter-ego Barbara Vine, it must surely be Ann Cleeves; she certainly proves it with this humorous, meaty read.

Rating ....

Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg Publisher: Jonathan Cape Price: Hardback PS12.99, ebook PS8.02 BILL CLEGG was a powerhouse literary agent whose crack addiction became both his downfall and the source of his personal renaissance.

Having hit rock bottom, his celebrated memoirs on substance abuse, Portrait Of An Addict As A Young Man and Ninety Days, pulled him back to the literary top. Judging by this, his debut novel, the top is where Clegg plans to stay. …

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