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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
As restaurant reviewer for The New York Times, William Grimes was very familiar with chicken -- sautéed, fricasseed, baked, roasted, minced, deboned, stuffed, shredded, or jerked. None of these gustatory experiences, however, prepared him for the sight of the live chicken that arrived in his backyard one winter and proceeded to settle in.
"My policy towards animals is pure hypocrisy," writes Grimes. "Once I meet them, I don't want to eat them." And so, an interspecies relationship began. This story of a man and his chicken is pure charm, lighter than a feather, an urban folktale founded in reality.
The new arrival, jet black with a crimson comb, seemed happy with its newly found digs in the Grimeses' backyard in Astoria, Queens. It scratched its way up the ladder in the backyard society of stray cats, elbowing Cookie, Bruiser, Crusher, and Yowzer from their bowls of cat food. With the advent of spring, it even started laying eggs once a day.
Grimes and his wife, Nancy, resisted attempts to give the fowl a name, but it soon acquired a capital letter, becoming the Chicken. Gradually, a connection of sorts was established: Grimes put out food for the Chicken, and the Chicken came to eat it. You wouldn't confuse it with the kind of bonding that occurs between dogs and humans, or even cats and humans. But it was something.
Prompted by his new friend, Grimes starts pecking his way through chicken history. He seeks advice from urban and rural agrarians on chicken preferences in sleeping, eating, and scratching. He gets even more advice once he writes a column about the Chicken in the Times. A photographer with a giant telephoto lens arrives to play paparazzo.
Shortly thereafter, the chicken disappears -- the result of chick-anery, perhaps, or a bird's reluctance to become a star, or the onset of wanderlust. Heartsick, the Grimeses scan the skies for weeks, to no avail. At last report, they were still birdless in Queens. (Ginger Curwen)