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Posted December 15, 2013
Posted August 25, 2009
The Lord God Bird is a startling narrative that takes the reader into the Deep South in 1949 in search of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker. The protagonist, a nineteen year old, and his girlfriend become enmeshed in a noir mystery that is entangled with racism, violence and passion. Hill writes a lyrical prose that is a combination of Faulkner mixed with Cormac McCarthy. If you pick this book up, you won't be able to put it down. A great read for a cool day in autumn, curled up on the sofa. Highly recommend this lovely novel!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 3, 2009
Pleasure Boat Studio, a literary press, is publishing THE LORD GOD BIRD under its Caravel Mystery imprint, but this evocatively told story is a suspense, not a mystery. The reader is never in doubt as to what happened and whodunit, but the pages flip with increasing speed as the story moves from Jake Hamrick's growing boyhood passion for birds to an irreversible moment of instinctive, violent reaction.
Hill's prose is clean and sparse, yet rich in vivid, intimate detail. As a study in show-don't-tell, it excels. Hill's trust in the reader is richly rewarding. His triggers do their magic, drawing curiosity, anticipation, dread, shock, and fear. But his language is, in turn, equally poetic, so while the story is suspenseful it is also beautifully haunting.
Set mostly in Louisiana in 1949, the standard elements of prejudice and poverty are essential to the plot but not the theme. This book could have been set any place where the value of life is judged and rated, deemed worthy or worthless. Yet the choice of this particular setting alters the story. Because most of us bring to our reading preconceived notions of the South in this time period, it's impossible not to anticipate what might be coming. Some of my worst fears did not, thankfully, materialize, but they added to my reading experience nonetheless. All of this built-in, reader-contributed back story allowed Hill to focus on Jake and his birdlike girlfriend Robin as they pursue the elusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker, building to the moment when a single reaction changes their lives forever.
That theme of irrevocable change is powerful. The repercussions keep the reader flipping the pages and on the edge. When I reached the final pages of the penultimate chapter of THE LORD GOD BIRD, I sat for a very long time, savoring the pensive mood Hill's poetic narrative evoked. The mystery in this book lies not in plot, but in craft. Deceptively easy-to-read, Hill's writing delivers far more than what's on the page.