Max Porter, author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers, shares five things he’s reading, watching and thinking about right now.
1. English Pen’s World Bookshelf
This is the vital archive of all the books in translation that have been given English PEN grants. It’s been a great honour, and much fun, to be on the committee for seven years. I’m departing from it now, but will check the bookshelf often, knowing that the best literature from around the world will be spotted and championed by this essential initiative.
2. Sounds of the Universe
I’ve been buying records in this shop since I was a teenager. It’s the center of my musical world, always trusted, always innovating. I am so incapable of passing without buying something that when I’m skint I walk the long way around Soho to avoid temptation. If you like jazz or hip hop or soul or reggae or disco or folk or electronic or world music . . . shit, if you like any type of music, get thee to this shop.
3. Lego Minifigures: The Simpsons
Not wanting to let our kids have all the fun, my wife started collecting these and now she’s horribly addicted. The people in the Lego shop taught her how to feel through the packs to identify the characters, which is a lovely thing to watch. Deep, deep concentration, moving hands, rubbing fingers and then bang, ‘MAGGIE!’ We also met a guy in another toy shop who taught us about bump codes. Bump codes are the tiny little air bubbles where the pack is sealed, and they are deliberately placed there to identify which figure is in the bag. Seriously.
4. Anders Nilsen
Anders Nilsen is my favourite graphic novelist. But really he’s one of my favourite creators in any medium. His comics, his thoughts on mourning and love and creativity, his drawings, his strange diagrammatic doodles – it’s a stunning body of work that I’ve come to treasure ever since a friend gave me the visionary Dogs and Water years ago. Some of the stuff in his stunning new book Poetry is Useless was familiar to me from looking at his blog, but in book form it is a breathtaking hybrid of diary, public transport sketchbook, emotional battleground and profound love letter.
5. Dark Mountain
If I need solace, if I am frightened or angry or just need the company of people who think straight about the planet, I spend a little time on Dark Mountain. I know I’m at my desk, on the internet, but I can feel like I’m in the woods thinking clearly again.
Photograph © Lucy Dickens