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The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
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The Bird Artist (1994)

by Howard Norman

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7071913,366 (3.77)56

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English (18)  Italian (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
The spare, dead-pan narration is at first attractive, but as the story develops, the writing, particularly the dialogue, comes across awkwardly. Characterizations are thin, they elicit no emotion from the reader - this one in any case. Behaviors don't fit circumstances, parts seem rushed, arbitrary. A fast read, and the concept had potential, just subpar execution of it. ( )
  JamesMScott | Apr 8, 2014 |
Such a different, yet compelling story, set before World War I in an isolated part of Canada, Witless Bay, Newfoundland. Fabian, grows up here, a place where everyone knows everyone else, where gossip is spread almost instantaneously, where it takes over a month a get a reply to a letter.

The novel starts with Fabian admitting to having killed someone, but this is so much more than a murder mystery. It is also a coming of age story, a story where the setting and Fabian's love for birds and the drawing of them, is a huge part of Fabian's life.

I loved the clean and clear prose, the characters names are so quirky, the story drew me in, quietly and slowly. I became immersed in this island and the lives of it's inhabitants. I absolutely adored the character of Margaret, she does and sees things in her own way which is hard to do on a small island. Also loved all the descriptions of the birds and I did look up several of these birds to see what they looked like. It was just an added bonus to this quiet but satisfying read. ( )
  Beamis12 | Oct 7, 2013 |
I decided to read this book because I read a New York Times article by the author. This book was also a National Book Award nominee. I found it interesting because he dealt with a place and time( Newfoundland in 1911) that is not something I read too much about. The book lets you know immediately that the lead character Fabian Vas had committed a murder. Although it took away the suspense, it did not impact the story. The characters were quirky and interesting. They reflected the harshness of life in that part of the world. It also reflected how things were changing for women through the character of Margaret. Although the book did lag a bit in the middle, ultimately it was a worthwhile read. I probably would not read any other books by Norman but I am glad I read this one. If someone is looking for a little history about that part of the world than I recommend "The Bird Artist". ( )
  nivramkoorb | Sep 7, 2013 |
Setting: Coastal Newfoundland, Canada 1911
Norman creates a very strong sense of place and time in a story simply written. But the emotions and actions of the characters are not simple. Tension builds in the lives of the nearly isolated villagers until there is a murder. We know who did it. It doesn't seem to matter all that much though. There is little sympathy for the victim and little condemnation of the murderer. And yet, the earth has shifted for the entire village. Strange ending after all that happened. ( )
1 vote -Cee- | Mar 2, 2013 |
The book starts out in the first paragraph, "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." It was an interesting beginning, and a reason to keep reading. ( )
  NanaCC | Jan 22, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Suddenly, with extreme violence, he felt himself seized by the desire to be, rain or no rain, at any price, in the midst of the valleys: alone. - Giorgio Bassani, The Heron
Dedication
For Jane and Emma
For George
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My name is Fabian Vas.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The setting is the bleak coastline of Newfoundland and the protagonist is Fabian Bass, an artistic type who paints birds when he is not building boats. Forced by his parents to abandon the woman he loves in order to marry a cousin, he revenges himself by murdering his mother's lover. By the author of Northern Lights.… (more)

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