City Lights in conjunction with Graywolf Press present
reading from his new novel
Published by Graywolf Press
This event will be held in Kerouac Alley, between Columbus and Grant Avenues, and City Lights and Vesuvio Cafe. Admission is free to the public. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. This event will not be broadcast live on the internet, but an audio recording will be made to be posted on our podcast site.
This is the story of a few strange hours in the life of a troubled teenage boy.
You mustn’t do that to yourself Shy. You mustn’t hurt yourself like that.
He is wandering into the night listening to the voices in his head: his teachers, his parents, the people he has hurt and the people who are trying to love him.
Got your special meds, nutcase?
He is escaping Last Chance, a home for “very disturbed young men,” and walking into the haunted space between his night terrors, his past, and the heavy question of his future.
The night is huge and it hurts.
In Shy, Max Porter extends the excavation of boyhood that began with Grief Is the Thing with Feathers and continued with Lanny. But here he asks: How does mischievous wonder and anarchic energy curdle into something more disturbing and violent? Shy is a bravura, lyric, music-besotted performance by one of the great writers of his generation.
Max Porter is the author of Lanny, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize, and The Death of Francis Bacon. He lives in Bath, England with his family.
What has been said about the work of Max Porter
“Max Porter has a way of writing unlike anyone else. I loved Shy. I finished it elated and tearful, joyful and terrified, changed by the journey. It moved me and surprised me and that is what I look for in my favourite artists.” -PJ Harvey
“In SHY, the graceful, mighty, minute, ranging mind of the teenage boy is given necessary and precious space. As with Max Porter’s previous books, this is living poetry-prose, pulsative, growing, coming of age, borderless in its thinking, boundaryless in its approach….all against a subtle backdrop of a country under bad governance, and the gentle, invisible care of those who look after our most vulnerable… This is a sonorous document that pulses with lived experience of landscape and person, a totally inimitable portrait of a rural life on the cusp of the millennium. The space Max makes for his characters is large, generous, real, open. SHY took me straight back to my teen-self, all her buck-toothed strangenesses and shyness, and made me want to hold her a little bit closer. ” -Rachael Allen
“A troubled boy’s psyche is presented in a shattered mosaic that contains within it the hope of new forms and new beginnings – this is a beautiful and haunting book, and it captures with a great artistry the resonance and rhythms of its era.” -Kevin Barry
“The troubled boy at the heart of this novel is full of rage and sadness, but Max Porter finds tenderness and hope in him. Just beautiful.” -Mariana Enriquez
“I kept thinking of Mrs Dalloway. The comparison seems utterly inappropriate, and yet where else had I experienced a character lift off the page in this way, with such scattered force? And yet also with such choral beauty. It’s a prose-bomb, this book; brief and brilliant.” -Samantha Harvey
“Rattling out a fast snare rhythm above an undertow of bubbling, mournful sub-bass, SHY is full of soul, sweat and spunk – a sad, wild, beautiful, brave and funny journey through one struggling teenager’s brain.” -Will Ashon
“I think it’s extraordinarily accomplished work. There is no other writer quite like Max, is there? The way he reveals Shy’s fragility without so much as a hint of sentimentality is masterful. I was so pleased that there was no attempt to explain away his behaviour as the result of a single traumatic incident. It’s a book that pushes back against the reductive nature of the now ubiquitous ‘trauma plot’ and, in doing so, more deeply honours the complexity of its subject.” -Nathan Filer
“In SHY Max Porter excavates through the mess and tumult of life and of a mind, leaving us with the sharp clarity of poetry, and an emotional core of tender, beautiful prose.” -Andrew McMillan
“SHY is the strangest, most beguiling and affecting of all his books.” –Ian Rankin
“SHY is intensely vivid, dark and provocative. Max Porter’s writing so striking, rich and evocative. Shy broke my heart and I loved him for it.” -Salena Godden
This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/