Review: A Manual for Heartache at the Adnams Spiegeltent

NNF17: A Manual for Heartache. Photo: Lucy Dickens

NNF17: A Manual for Heartache. Photo: Lucy Dickens - Credit: Lucy Dickens

Reading from his debut book Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, Max Porter said it was too hot in the bejewelled Adnams Spiegeltent surroundings to get in to the really heavy stuff – as if the extracts he delivered with such brave force were easy words.

Alongside Richard Beard (The Day That Went Missing) and Cathy Rentzenbrink (The Last Act of Love), Porter gave honest insights into their experiences of writing about grief, covering both fictional versions and troubling personal memoirs.

Beard spoke of his family's 'unblacking' of the day one of his brothers died, and Rentzenbrink the slow loss of her older brother and the way memories mutate over time, both having wrestled with writing about their experiences for many years.

These were sensitive and dark topics for a summer's day but also a reminder that human connections and creativity can come from difficult places, if we're prepared to wallow just a while.

James Goffin


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