Paint the Bird

Paint the Bird

5.0 1
by Georgeann Packard
     
 

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Reverend Sarah Obadias is broken, bitter, and stripped of the reassurance of faith when she walks into a West Village restaurant in Manhattan. Here she encounters Abraham Darby, a rumpled but well-regarded painter who seduces the minister into his life of excess and emotional intensity. "I've run away from my life, "Sarah tells him. "I know," Darby replies. "Take

Overview

Reverend Sarah Obadias is broken, bitter, and stripped of the reassurance of faith when she walks into a West Village restaurant in Manhattan. Here she encounters Abraham Darby, a rumpled but well-regarded painter who seduces the minister into his life of excess and emotional intensity. "I've run away from my life, "Sarah tells him. "I know," Darby replies. "Take mine. " But for Sarah, each day with the artist will bring a new reality—or lack of it—especially after she meets Darby's gay son Yago. Bloodlines become squiggled and unreliable as the characters explore father-son relationships and what constitutes a family.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Packard’s note to the reader at the end of the novel on the book’s typography serves to illuminate her attention to aesthetic detail throughout. The story reads like a prose poem—emotional significance comes across in the sparsely told daily machinations of the lives of a few intentionally but tenuously connected New Yorkers. Sarah is a lapsed minister, experiencing a mortal-world version of limbo. Adrift from her religion and her marriage, and increasingly irrelevant in her grown-up daughter’s life, she is aimlessly, persistently looking for something to hold onto. She clings to moments, recorded in joyful and precise detail, like a single meal at a dimly lit restaurant, or an encounter with a strange man. When she meets Abraham Darby, a gruff but sensuous artist, she willingly steps into his life, leaving hers behind for a night that turns into a weekend, and then merges into something more difficult to extricate herself from. Packard (Fall Asleep Forgetting) weaves a dreamy yet well-paced narrative with richly developed characters who gradually come to discover that life is always going on—whether they’re watching or not. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
Packard (Fall Asleep Forgetting, 2010) searches the shadowy landscape of love and family. Betrayed by her husband and best friend, the Rev. Sarah Obadias finds herself "this less-than-married minister." After a church conference brought on by a crisis in faith, Sarah's at loose ends in lower Manhattan. She retreats to a restaurant/bar, there meeting Abraham Darby, renowned painter, a virile, self-obsessed colossus. Sarah and Darby are marked with the "refinement of age." She's 69; he's slightly older, but their attraction is intense, immediate. Cocktails, food and then bed follow. The next morning, she finds herself with Darby in Brooklyn at the funeral of Yago Darby Díaz, Darby's son, dead of AIDS. Sarah's shocked when Darby stands to eulogize his son and rages that "[h]e stopped sharing his life with me when he joined this...culture?" Lives quickly become intertwined, Sarah with Darby, the two then with Johnny, Yago's spouse, and their son, Angelo, and Allyssa, Angelo's biological mother. Johnny is settled, owner of a small restaurant, and Yago, blithe spirit in life and death, had partied regularly around the bar circuit. The narrative moves to Darby's summer house at Orient, Long Island, where Alejandra, Yago's sensual and flamboyant artist mother, joins the moveable wake, and then back to the city, where Darby tumbles into a deep depression. Faith broken by doubt, Sarah's left to confront her fractured life alone. Packard's book layers symbolism on its pages, but it's also an entrancing exercise in employing language to explore and define the nature of love and the meaning of life framed against death. The lyrical narrative edges toward the surreal when Yago speaks from the hospital gurney where he lies dead, then addresses Darby in the car on the way to his beach house, and finally approaches Sarah on the beach. However, beginning to end, the novel is a deeply poetic meditation "About life, about trust. About God. About death." Brilliantly imagined and rendered.
Starred Review - Kirkus Reviews
"Packard's book layers symbolism on its pages, but it's also an entrancing exercise in employing language to explore and define the nature of love and the meaning of life framed against death. The lyrical narrative edges toward the surreal, however, beginning to end, the novel is a deeply poetic meditation 'About life, about trust. About God. About death.' Brilliantly imagined and rendered."
Booklist - Booklist Reviews
"Highlighting a unique intersection of the gay, artistic, and religious communities, Packard challenges readers to look closely at their beliefs about death, sexuality, and the constructs of family. Rich descriptions of art and overt sensuality lend beauty to this provocative story of loss and hope."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781579623173
Publisher:
Permanent Press, The
Publication date:
07/28/2013
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Georgeann Packard is a writer, graphic designer, and photographer. She also designs and installs gardens on Long Island's North Fork, where she lives with her stellar family. Her first novel, Fall Asleep Forgetting, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in 2010.

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Paint the Bird 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
A perfect painting of a bird might combine frailty of form with strength of flight to give an illusion of life. But if the painter holds the bird too tight it dies. Georgeann Packard combines strength and weakness, image and reality, the frailty of the individual and the strength of the group in her novel Paint the Bird, bringing together an aging preacher losing her faith with a lonely man losing his son, and all the others who are seemingly finding both. These losses began long before the story and waited, like unfinished paintings, for a critical moment to bring them to life. Now both characters balance holding tight with letting go; and the bird, or at least the novel, Paint the Bird, takes flight. Set in the period between Ash Wednesday and the season of Pentecost, the novel builds images of death, resurrection and renewal into the stories of Sarah, who doesn’t know where she’s going, and Abraham who’s lost sight of where he’s been. It’s a tale of contrasting styles—a churchwoman’s conformity with an artist’s abandon, a husband’s secret betrayal with a son’s uncompromising lifestyle choice, and the refinements of age with unpainted opportunities of youth. In a powerful scene two artists portray the same woman, the author’s word-pictures leaving readers breathless before their art; then the storyline pivots on which image will be chosen to take the stage. A photograph holds the bird safely still for the painter, but painting from memory’s never the same as truth. In this novel, characters are achingly real and three-dimensional, filled with complex emotions and honest motivations. The reader is invited to share a few steps on their path, just enough to know death, resurrection and renewal, to see the colors behind the black and white of human judgment, and to watch the thin blue line appear where sacrifice turns to forgiveness and moving on. Disclosure: I was given a free bound galley of this novel by the publisher with a request for my honest review.