Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Fall of the Birds by Bradford Morrow
A new novella by acclaimed author Bradford Morrow about a man who tracks an inexplicable plague of bird deaths, and the mystery’s profound effect on his family
Hundreds of red-winged blackbirds are discovered scattered, lifeless, around a greenhouse in Warwick, New York. Heaps of common grackles litter the fields of a farm upstate near Stone Ridge. And in Manhattan, a Washington Square restaurant is forced to close its doors when a flock of pigeons inexplicably dies on the sidewalks out front. From Pennsylvania to Maine, birds are falling from the sky en masse—and nobody can figure out why.
An insurance claims adjuster and avid birder is one of the first to recognize that something is wrong. His stepdaughter, Caitlin, has also noticed—their common interest in birds is one of the few things they share these days, since her mother died of cancer just six months ago. As they travel the Northeast together to investigate the ominous deaths, a bond forms that might prove strong enough to mend their broken family.
Fall of the Birds is a moving story of a haunting near-future and a tribute to the power of love that can survive even the most harrowing of circumstances.
This is a lyrical story about loss. Loss of birds, of hopes for the future and of people. It is a beautiful account of a man’s struggle to make sense of a world where the woman he loved is no longer there.
The beauty of the story lies mainly in the way the author handles the grief that surrounds the protagonist and his step-daughter. It is not blatant, but hidden in their obsession with the birds that suddenly start disappearing. There are many moving scenes, as when they spy a blue bird perched on their loved one’s grave, really bringing in the meaning full circle.
This is definitely a story I would recommend. It’s a delicate, quiet thing, but the truth behind it sings loud and clear.