Paint the Bird

Paint the Bird

by Georgeann Packard

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The 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.

Dancing through the novel is the mystical Yago, the gay son of Darby and the Costa Rican painter Alejandra Morales Diaz. But Alejandra's appearance further discomposes Sarah, and Yago provides no calm or clarity when she encounters him: "It's all bizarre, surreal. Finally she draws closer to Yago, intending to caress him in some horrible mix of mothering and lust."

Bloodlines becomes squiggles and unreliable as the novel explores the ever-changing relationship between fathers and sons and what constitutes a family. And throughout, one question lingers: What really did happen when a small boy was swallowed by the sea?

Laced with humor and a linguistic vibrancy, this tale of converging fates becomes a contemplation on faith, faithfulness, and the sticky, oft unpleasant and frightening nature of spiritual and emotional growth.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940148620495
Publisher: The Permanent Press
Publication date: 07/22/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
File size: 739 KB

About 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.