In an email exchange, Murphy described the development of the stage production as a collaborative effort. “Max and Enda had a particularly strong understanding, which guided Enda’s adaptation of the book,” he said. “And Max was extremely generous and invaluable with his work.”
The adaptation retained much of Porter’s signature prose style, which Murphy said was well suited to the stage. “Words are absolutely beautiful to say,” he said. “Like all good writing, the more you say them, the more they reveal.”
Porter’s second outing, “Lanny,” shares a lot with Porter’s debut. Both novels deal with loss, told through multiple perspectives of a single family, and feature an ageless and omnipotent observant presence. This time, instead of a crow, we are introduced to Dead Papa Toothwort, a mythical creature of the woods who hides in the shadows, watching over the drama.
Like the jerky rhythm of the raven chapters, Dead Papa Toothwort’s voice is also frantic, with its narration interrupted by whimsical digressions. These interruptions are expressed by an irregular composition, with words that crisscross and meander on the page.
These chaotic sections echo the content of Porter’s notebooks, where ideas for his novels are formed. Each book is filled with layouts of scribbled pieces, scribbled characters, scribbled phrases, and random blocks of text. While developing “The Death of Francis Bacon,” he says, he sketched in his notebooks while studying reproductions of the painter’s work.
“For three months,” he said, “I did nothing other than look at pictures of Bacon every day.”