- “Shy’s disordered, multidimensional consciousness careens through Max Porter’s brief and brilliant fourth book, a bravura, extended-mix of a novel that skitters, pulses, fractures and coalesces again with all the exhilaration and doom of broken beats and heavy bass lines. . . . [Shy's] both a hapless, hurting child and a dangerous, violent young man, and his author has loved each part of him into being with the same steady attention.”—Hermione Hoby, The New York Times Book Review
You mustn’t do that to yourself Shy. You mustn’t hurt yourself like that.
He is wandering into the night listening to the voices in his head: his teachers, his parents, the people he has hurt and the people who are trying to love him.
Got your special meds, nutcase?
He is escaping Last Chance, a home for “very disturbed young men,” and walking into the haunted space between his night terrors, his past, and the heavy question of his future.
The night is huge and it hurts.
In Shy, Max Porter extends the excavation of boyhood that began with Grief Is the Thing with Feathers and continued with Lanny. But here he asks: How does mischievous wonder and anarchic energy curdle into something more disturbing and violent? Shy is a bravura, lyric, music-besotted performance by one of the great writers of his generation.
- “Porter's compulsively readable primal scream of a novel offers a compassionate portrait of boy jerked around by uncontrollable mood swings that lead to self-sabotaging decisions.”—Heller McAlpin, NPR.org
“[Porter] may be contemporary fiction’s bard of ugly beauty and exultant despair. . . . [He] displays an unusual grasp of how consciousness moves, darting and pausing and doubling back, in real time. . . . The only magic is in the language, which makes its surprising interventions into a teenager’s life. It frames him hostilely, then with pity. It gooses and taunts him, cheers and parents him, forming him into whatever he is going to be.”—Katy Waldman, The New Yorker
- “[Porter's] method relies on an original use of typography. . . . Recollections of his rage attacks appear in breathlessly pummeling single-sentence paragraphs, while some phrases loom so large in his imagination they balloon in size and push over into the following page. The effect is to make the reading a conscious, physical process, as cross-grained and obstacle-strewn as Shy’s way of existing in the world.”—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
- “Porter sets himself the challenge of rendering the least palatable of these children sympathetic: the kind of boy who has a lot going for him, a lot of privilege, and can’t seem to do anything but make a mess of it. . . . His technique of layering snatches of thought, memory, and feeling deftly, in a manner that feels instinctive, makes Shy’s perspective seem not only understandable but inevitable to the reader. But this success is also partly due to the immersive, compulsively readable quality of Porter’s writing: A novel that asks you to spend time with a difficult character is most successful, I would argue, when it is enjoyable and entertaining to read.”—Rachel Connolly, The New Republic