An Author’s Deathbed Portrait of Francis Bacon


In an email exchange, Murphy described the development of stage production as a collaborative effort. “Max and Enda had a special strong understanding that informed Enda’s adaptation of the book,” he said. “And Max was extremely generous and unworthy in his work.”

The adaptation retained much of Porter’s signature prose style, which Murphy said was well-suited to the scene. “The words are absolutely beautiful,” he said. “Like all good writing, the more you say them, the more they come up.”

Porter’s second release, “Lanny,” shares a lot with Porter’s debut. Both novels are about loss, told from multiple perspectives of a single family, and feature an ageless, omnipotent observer presence. This time instead of a crow, we meet Dead Papa Toothwort, a mythical jungle creature lurking in the shadows and watching the drama.

Like the staccato rhythm of the crow’s episodes, Dead Pope Toothwort’s voice is frantic, his narration interrupted by stubborn speech. These interruptions are expressed in irregular typesetting, with words swirling and curling across the page.

These chaotic chapters reflect the contents of Porter’s notebooks, from which ideas for his novels are formed. Each book is filled with scribbled room layouts, scribbled characters, scribbled sentences, and random blocks of text. He said that while developing “The Death of Francis Bacon,” he drew sketches in his notebooks while examining reproductions of the painter’s work.

“For three months,” he said, “I did nothing but look at Bacon’s paintings every day.”



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