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Bird Artist, The : A Novel

Norman, Howard

2,449 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0374113300 / ISBN 13: 9780374113308
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1994-07-01, US, 1994
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
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Monroe Street Books
Middlebury, VT, U.S.A.

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About this Item

289 pages. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on front end paper. Clean, unmarked copy with only minor wear to dust jacket. Record # 462425. Bookseller Inventory # 462425

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Bird Artist, The : A Novel

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1994-07-01, US

Publication Date: 1994

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

A spare, powerful novel set in Newfoundland in 1911 concerns Fabian, who is studying to be a bird painter, and his relationships with a beautiful woman and his difficult parents, as jealousy, guilt, and regret enter his life. By the author of The Northern Lights. Tour.

Review:

Though judging a book by its cover is ill-advised, assessing The Bird Artist by its first paragraph is a safe bet. Howard Norman's second novel lives up to all expectations promised by the kind of beginning that makes a reader beg for more and then panic that the rest will not be as good: "My name is Fabian Vas. I live in Witless Bay, Newfoundland. You would not have heard of me." "Obscurity is not necessarily failure, though; I am a bird artist, and have more or less made a living at it. Yet I murdered the lighthouse keeper, Botho August, and that is an equal part of how I think of myself."

There are echoes of Vladimir Nabokov's infamous narrator, Humbert Humbert, in Fabian's confessional tone, witty humor, and emotional detachment from the series of bizarre events he describes. Set at the turn of the century in a remote cod-fishing community, The Bird Artist is a love story of sorts, filled with curious characters and a chowder restaurant. The men wear "knitted underwear all year round lined with fleece calico" and periodically escape the island to pursue their livelihoods on the sea. But the women are land bound. Helen Twombly suspects fellow villagers of stealing her milk bottles. Alaric Vas suffers from arthritis that no liniment relieves and plots her son's arranged marriage with a fourth cousin in Richibucto, New Brunswick. Meanwhile, Fabian's childhood love, Margaret Handle, propels herself and the plot forward with unwieldy energy. How did things for a mild-mannered man who just likes "to wake up early, wash my face, and get out and draw birds" go so wrong?

Norman, a folklorist and naturalist, presents us with the possible explanations in the form of fine details from an island life he researched while living in a remote Inuit whale-hunting community. He carefully examines the inner isolation of his characters. The severe landscape and the weather serve as the perfect metaphor. If you're looking for linguistic pyrotechnics, Norman's economy won't suit you. In The Bird Artist--a finalist for the 1994 National Book Award--there is as much to admire on the page as what's not. --Cristina Del Sesto

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We have an open shop. Hours are: 9AM to 6PM Monday-Saturday and 11AM to 6 PM Sundays. The shop is located at 1485 Route 7 North, 2 miles north of downtown Middlebury, VT. We are located at Paquette self-storage across from Euclide Quenell Farm (It's Vermont!) and have over 150,000 books. Some have said we're the best used book store in the State and Book Lover's Guide has listed us as a "must see." So if you're out our way, please stop in.(When weather VERY bad, please call ahead. We do close during snow storms, etc.)

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Monroe Street Books. Owners: Richard and Flanzy Chodkowski. Mailing address: Monroe Street Books, 70 Monroe Street, Middlebury, Vermont 05753 USA. Store Located at: 1485 Route 7 North, Middlebury, Vermont 05753 USA. Phone: 1-802-398-2200 Email: books@monroestreetbooks.com
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