Grief is the Thing with Feathers
Faber, $24.99 hb, 128 pp, 9780571323760
Crow is wild. His black eyes glint and his beak seems to smile. Malicious and mischievous, he sits in a living room with two boys and their father wrapped in his wings. The woman who was their mother and wife has died, leaving the family 'like Earth in that extraordinary picture of the planet surrounded by a thick belt of space junk'.
Crow is the titular bird of Ted Hughes's 1970 poetry collection. The father is writing a book about him that 'will reflect the subject. It will hop about a bit.' Grief is the Thing with Feathers reflects its subjects too: grief, firstly, but also the myth that Hughes built. And it does hop about, in a warp of prose and poetry that, like Crow, pays no heed to rules or sense. There is, for example, a certain carelessness with facts; this disorientation helps represent grief.