Monday, November 21, 2016
Bird by Noy Holland
A doctor’s wife, mom to a pair of tots, reflects upon her bohemian youth misspent with sexy bad boy Mickey
Bird breastfeeds her infant daughter and prepares her son for school. Suzie, a half-crazed friend from long ago, keeps calling, to reminisce with Bird, also to remind her a bit too emphatically that Suzie gets to live the untrammeled life of an artist. Bird’s amiable husband, Dr. Said-So, decamps for work. Bird spends the day caring for the baby and losing herself in vividly tactile memories of the rise and fall of her and Mickey's passionate dysfunctional romance. A large chunk of the book is taken up with the memory of her and Mickey hiking a ride with crazed country folk Tuk and Doll Doll.
The prose was shimmering and beautiful, full of surprising sensory detail and evocative. There are two Birds in this story – the motherless girl drifting in the past, and the “crunchy” rural affluent multi-tasking Bird of the present. The tension between those two worked well. I loved the crazy philosophical conversations she has with her young son, filtered through his speech impediment. I like the way the wild memories are given equal weight with the hours and duties of a stay at home mom’s day. However, at times, I wondered if the beautiful writing covered up a low stakes humdrum romance story – Mickey comes off like a jerk.
The long interlude with Tuk and Doll Doll almost felt like another story inserted into this one.