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The Death of Francis Bacon

3.24  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Man Dying.

A great painter lies on his deathbed.
Max Porter translates into seven extraordinary written pictures the explosive final workings of the artist's mind.
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published January 7th 2021 by Faber Faber
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Average rating 3.24  · 
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 ·  129 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Tom Mooney
Nov 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
I liked Porter's first book. His second, Lanny, was magnificent, a work of inventive genius. But I have no idea what he is doing with The Death of Francis Bacon.

This slim, strange collection of... Well, I'm not sure what it is. I don't think I understood even one paragraph in the whole thing. If anyone beyond the writer himself is able to decipher the strands of this, I'll be very surprised.

Not good
All My Friends  Are Fictional
Glimpses of brilliance mixed with feelings of What the hell am I reading right now.
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was ok
In seven brief chapters Max Porter evokes the last days of Francis Bacon, while he dies in a hospital in Madrid. The titles of the chapters give the dimensions of paintings; they can be matched more or less reliably to actual paintings by Bacon, and one can then, if desired, seek references in the chapters to these paintings. The chapters themselves are more poetry than prose, they attempt, it seems, to paint in words what goes on in Bacon's head in his last days, in the style of Bacon himself, ...more
Andrew Howdle
Jan 06, 2021 rated it did not like it
Words, supposedly, are applied mimetically to capture Bacon's painting style. "We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars"said Wilde. Bacon rather liked describing the gutter. Porter too. And he seems to have written this on a very cloudy night. Indulgent in all the wrong ways. ...more
Ben Hall
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
A snack. I think I’ll read this a few times. Washes over you.
Douglas Greenwood
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ambitious and weird and warrants a dozen reads. Short enough to justify giving it a few gos if it seems quite obtuse on first inspection. There's real, macabre beauty within it. ...more
Oliver Shrouder
Jan 10, 2021 rated it liked it
For a concept this fantastic Porter feels like he overstepped his creative boundary, blurring a brilliant painter’s final days into an obtuse Crow-esque series of muddled words and consciousness. The only issue is that it doesn’t have other characters to balance it out.

If you have to read this one, read Preparatory Sketch, then Four, then Seven - this is Porter at his magical best, interceded by Porter at his densest
Maria Ch
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was ok
I love Max Porter but i didn't like this book and what is most important is i did not understand the need for this book. The aftertaste of reading this was 'what did i just read and why' and that's never a good experience. ...more
Will Jacks
Jan 07, 2021 rated it liked it
Went into this having read Lanny, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This book is another Max Porter-style piece where the descriptive language is hypnotically engaging. I would’ve found it more engaging if Max maybe prefaced the story(?) with some historical context or even just a blurb of background information. Before going into the book, I already knew a lot about Francis Bacon’s hellish upbringing in Ireland, but this book definitely paints a picture of his deathbed which I didn’t know anything ab ...more
Alison MacConnell
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this today. Twice. And, I'll be honest, I don't get it. And yet... there was something about it that I liked a lot. Max Porter's way with words is so vivid and poetic - you go on a journey with his writing even when you don't know the destination, or even really the route. I loved his first two books and, despite how baffled this one has left me, I feel I want to read it over and over again to try and solve the puzzle and absorb his prose in all its magnificence. Perhaps my lack of knowle ...more
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it

“It’s an attempt to get at the sense of what is looming up behind the person being hurt.
It’s an attempt to keep the breast meat of the bird moist while the skin is crispy.
It’s an attempt to express my feelings about a painter I have had a long unfashionable fixation with.
It’s an attempt to get art history out of the way and let the paintings speak.
It’s an attempt to hold catastrophe still so you can get a proper sniff at it.”

“Last sight isn’t human after all, is pure throb colour on the hear
Andrew Sztehlo
Jan 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
Mostly incomprehensible but beautifully written nonetheless. I imagine if you have a deep understanding of Francis Bacon you’ll understand this more than I did. This is not the third novel I thought it was, but rather, an interesting experimental side project / b side. Max Porter remains one of the best writers in the UK today, and I look forward to his eventual third novel.
Jan 11, 2021 rated it liked it
i wanted to be a bit more captivated by this after loving lanny & grief. it's a treat to read porter simply as an author so intently interested in the potential of his medium, but mostly this left me wanting to read his next novel. the book is so short, though, that i expect i'll return to it after reading more on francis bacon. ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was ok
i usually love max porter and how eccentric he is, but i have to say i have no clue what he was on about for around 75% of this book. the bits that i did get were fabulous as always, but unfortunately that wasn’t much of it
Jan 09, 2021 added it
Shelves: 2021-releases
I can’t rate this until I’ve read it at least three more times. I have a lot of thoughts.
Jan 13, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Very hermetic, really only of interest to people fascinated by (and very familiar with) Francis Bacon.
Deborah Siddoway
Jan 12, 2021 rated it liked it
You know when you that feeling when you are really, and I mean, REALLY, looking forward to reading a book. And then you pick it up, and start reading it. A few pages in, you start to shuffle in your seat, but you press on, get through a few more pages. Then it hits you. That sinking feeling of disappointment. Unfortunately, this was The Death of Francis Bacon for me.

I first came across Max Porter with Grief is the Thing with Feathers, and it was such an emotional and immersive read for me that I
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
“painting is its own language and is not translatable into words” - Francis Bacon

I think this book is Max Porter’s attempt to defy or subvert these words, not to write about painting but to ‘write as painting’. To be fair if anyone deserves a published attempt at this, it would be Porter. His distinct, dizzying and dazzling language is unmatched in contemporary literature. Now combine this with his perennial fascination with Francis Bacon and you have all the makings of a potentially new path fo
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
2.5 A visceral take on the final thoughts of the great Francis Bacon. Bacon had a whirlwind of a life, I wish this took a more in depth look into the person. It feels entirely unaccessible if you don't know much about Bacon or his life, those he was aquainted with, his relationships & sexuality etc. The style is by far the most difficult part to digest. In a way it is effective in that sense of "difficult to digest", much like Bacon's work, but in the end I found it hard to connect with. Bacon's ...more
Graham Sillars
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What can I say about this, other than... it was deliciously, gloriously, darkly and deeply brilliant. A macabre and poetic look at art, the artist and the unapologetic disordered darkness of approaching death. Deeply strange, aggressive and multilayered. This book would, most definitely, hold up to many a reread. There are things here that could take on a different and far deeper meaning with the kind of deep understanding and appreciation rereading a well written and engaging book can bring. I ...more
Stagger Lee
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021, fiction
I struggled with this a bit (as much as you can struggle with something you read in an hour).

The surge of imagery reads brilliantly but I know only a little about Bacon so I'm missing most of the references (I know this because the few times I *do* understand the references, the writing becomes clearer).

Felt like a teenager fumbling at Eliot wishing for Cliff Notes.

But it's still a properly thrilling read, like Porter's other books but more extreme and more elusive.

'it's an attempt to hold cat
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Unconventional and unapologetic. I love Porter’s writing and previous books. They’re dark and multi layered. I find Francis Bacon’s work passionate and violent and fascinating. This book isn’t a novel or even a short story, is a brief character study of an angry, dying man written a bit like how Bacon’s paintings look. It’s the kind of book I’ll read again and I’ll see a completely different painting in my mind.
Katie Sergeant
Jan 11, 2021 rated it liked it
really enjoyed this - it definitely felt like i was somehow reading bacon’s paintings - but it seemed unnecessarily jumbled at times to the point where i didn’t understand what was going on?? but maybe that’s the ~ poetic ~ point?? a super good read nonetheless if you like art and want a quick read that you can dip in and out of !
Lynsey Hall
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
This book feels like Bacons Art, which is what Porter was aiming for but it's so hard to read. There is no story, there are streams of consciousness but from a mind that not many will be able to relate to. The language is amazing, the structure is interesting but I am just baffled and oh so confused. This is nothing at all like Lanny or Grief is the thing with the feathers. ...more
Jan 05, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, uk-author
I read this in the early hours of this morning as I couldn’t sleep (again) and I got the notification that it hand landed on my Kindle.

This was...weird. I don’t think I really got it? Though Max Porter’s writing is brutally and viscerally beautiful as always, and his imagery is so sharp and often shocking.
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-my-shelf
I'm not sure how to review this. I liked reading it, but at the same time have no clue what I actually read. 😅

It's a bit like staring at modern art paintings in a museum. Liking the colours, the imagery, the brush strokes, knowing that you like looking at it, but not actually knowing what you're looking at.
Sarah Whitney
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
It’s hard to tell if this book is genius or the ramblings of a poetic lunatic - I think it’s probably both! Max Porter is easily my favourite author I’ve discovered this past year & his books are best read frantically. I know most of my friends would read this and ask “what the hell did I just read??” But I love it in so many ways
Corey Terrett
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Max Porter is one of my favourite writers - I love how he uses and plays with language and imagery. He surprises you with every book and I really enjoyed this short, snappy, brilliant book. So. Good!
Jeanette Flannery
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was ok
I loved Lanny and Grief Is a Thing a With Feathers and really hoped to love this too but I just didn't really warm to this one, despite being a fan of Bacon's artwork too! It feels like reading a book length poem; part fascination, part incomprehension. Definitely a challenging read. ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
I won't pretend I didn't feel quite lost at times but I really enjoyed the dreamy quality of the writting. Knowing nothing about Francis Bacon it helped me to read a little about him on line while reading the book. ...more
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Max Porter’s first novel, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers won the Sunday Times/Peter, Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year, the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the Europese Literatuurprijs and the BAMB Readers’ Award and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Goldsmiths Prize. It has been sold in twenty-nine territories. Complicité and Wayward’s production of Grief Is the ...more

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