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The Bird Artist by Howard Norman

The Bird Artist (1994)

by Howard Norman

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8582814,948 (3.79)1 / 124

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English (27)  Italian (1)  All languages (28)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Thank you Library Thing member who recommended this novel. The style is spare and honest with superb sense of place. Great characters and use of art and nature. Really enjoyed it. Will look for his title Northern Lights. ( )
  lmbix | Nov 17, 2017 |
I don't remember who recommended Howard Norman to me, but thank you. This book is set in Newfoundland, which already endears it to me. Right off the bat, our protagonist Fabian, a bird artist, reveals that he has killed the lighthouse keeper. Now we will come to understand Fabian and see what led such a gentle, contemplative soul to this act. Wonderful descriptions of the countryside and its inhabitants are part of the package. ( )
  gbelik | Aug 26, 2017 |
Liked this quite well for the first half or so, but my interest waned about midway through and it didn't pick back up again, unfortunately. ( )
  JBD1 | May 3, 2017 |
Fabian Vas discovered at a young age his talent for drawing the birds of his small Newfoundland village. He cultivated his talent and began making a little money from his artwork while still a teenager. He also began secretly seeing Margaret, the older, alcoholic daughter of the local mail boat captain, a girl his mother dislikes.
When Fabian is twenty, his father leaves for a hunting trip, one that is expected to last many months, where he will earn money from killing birds. Fabian's mother immediately begins an affair with the lighthouse keeper, Botho August. The two conduct their affair without discretion, so that the entire village is aware, which humiliates Fabian. It's Margaret, always drunk and bold, who puts the idea in Fabian's mind for avenging his father.

I had to get a copy of this after seeing some comments in the group read here a few months back. It was one of David Bowie's favorites!
This story of Fabian delivers to the reader a young man who would likely have led a quiet life if not for his mother's actions, which in turn leads him to follow Margaret's advice. Or perhaps Fabian is so easily manipulated that he was destined to get into trouble. Either way, this is really well-written. 4.5 stars ( )
  mstrust | Dec 6, 2016 |
Overall I liked this, but not as much as What is Left the Daughter which was my first Norman book. One reason is Margaret’s character was unrealistic to me. She thinks about and has sex pretty much all the time. I’m not saying women don’t like sex, but pre-birth control this seems too risky. Also, Fabian seems to see more deeply into other people than men usually do. On one hand he’s very emotional and can’t forgive his mother’s affair, then at other times he acts coldly and dispassionately; like how matter of fact he is while telling about the falling out with his mother. And the live-and-let-live attitude just went too far when it came to the murder. For a while there I didn’t know there’d be any call to justice and when it came I didn’t see it coming. That was nicely done. ( )
  Bookmarque | Mar 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
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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
For Jane and Emma
For George
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My name is Fabian Vas.
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Book description
This tale of passion, murder and fate is set in 1911 in Witless Bay, Newfoundland, a bleak and isolated community whose citizens are capable of grim retribution and astonishing acts of compassion. In a spare but elegant narrative, Fabian Bass tells us on the novel's first page that he is a bird artist, and that he murdered the lighthouse keeper Botho August. Two irresistible sexual attractions have propelled the 20-year-old Fabian to his desperate act: his love for spirited, eccentric Margaret Handle, which his parents have sought to thwart because she is an alcoholic and older than he; and his mother's flagrant, unrepentant adultery with August as soon as her husband sets off on a long bird-hunting expedition, the proceeds of which are planned to finance Fabian's arranged marriage with a distant cousin he has never met.
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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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