Max Porter is the author of Lanny, longlisted for the Booker Prize, and Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Goldsmiths Prize. He is the recipient of the Sunday Times/Peter, Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year award. He will be reading from his new book The Death of Francis Bacon (published by Strange Light) in our City Lights LIVE! discussion post series on Saturday, October 2nd, 2021!
Where are you writing to us from?
From the exact midpoint between Wendy, my life-size fiberglass zebra (she is in the garden) and my life-size son (he is playing Fortnite in the room next door, complaining that his friend isn’t giving him any loot), in the city of Bath, in England.
What’s kept you sane during the pandemic?
Music, river swims, mentoring young writers, cooking, The Office (American), painting walls, swifts, green beans, red wine, hoovering, my kids, my kids, my beautiful kids, my strong wise funny wife, my interesting friends, being busy, making new work, collaborating. I’m not especially sane, I don’t think.
What books are you reading right now? Which books do you return to?
I’m reading Lonesome Dove because I was told to. It’s taken a long time but I’m almost done. The shit’s about to hit the fan I think. I’m not sure those cowboys are going to get to Montana.
I’ve read fewer books this year than ever before. It’s fine. There’s time. I am enjoying Lincoln Pierce’s Max and the Midknights books very much. My son and I are reading them and they absolutely bang. The last contemporary novel I read was Natasha Brown’s Assembly, which is exceptional. An important and beautifully executed upgrade of the English novel.
Which writers, artists, and others influence your work in general, and this book, specifically?
This book was most influenced by Incunabula, which is a book about all the shit left in Bacon’s studio. It’s marvelous.
If you opened a bookstore, where would it be located, what would it be called, and what would your bestseller be?
Right out the front of my house, it would be called FREE BOOKS and it would be all the proofs (ARCs) I’ve been sent these last five years and people could take what they like, and if they felt like popping a coin in the can it would be for Bath Welcomes Refugees, and this is actually happening next month when I find someone to lend me a trestle table, and I asked my kids if they wanted to help work on the stall and they said “Will we get paid?” so I preemptively fired them.