Shy by Max Porter
He stands, a rucksack full of stones on his back, teetering on the brink. No one understands, hell he can’t comprehend his own actions most of the time. Relegated to the shadows, doomed to always be marked as “that kid”. His mind races a million miles an hour, waves of rage crashing around him.
When one of my favourite lead singers, Chester Bennington, died by his own hand a few years ago, it just didn’t make sense. He had everything, the love of his family, international acclaim, the adoration of millions of adoring fans and yet he couldn’t carry on. Why?
Reading Shy last night, I wondered if this was perhaps a scintilla of what Chester had gone through. A new bestseller, published last week by @faberbooks from the award winning Max Porter of Lanny fame, this short novel was a discombobulating, undulating, powerful read.
In fragmented, lyrical prose, you are plummeted into the depths of Shy, a teenage boy in a home for troubled youths.
The text veers from a stream of self consciousness to solitary bursts on a page, emblematic of the turbulence, a narrative technique Porter is well known for. In moments you feel the anguish of his family, their struggle to understand why he lashes out. In hard to read passages we witness Shy as he depicts his desire, shame, love of music & complete isolation. There are points this becomes hallucinatory, with interspersed voices throughout of adults, teachers and dreams, almost taunting him.
Through the chaos, I wanted to reach into the pages and hug him. He heartbreakingly asks for deliverance, at times yearns for the peace death would bring, not having to listen to the torrent of his mind, experience the dreams that cause him to loose a grip on reality. It was in these moments that I thought about Chester, the torture it must be, trapped in a mental ocean of disarray, the strength of those fighting every day.
Porter is a writer of epic abilities, the few hours we have of this character left me wanting so much more. By the end there is a sense of hope amidst the listlessness. A book I hope many people experience ~ C
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