Saturday, September 3, 2011
The Bird House has been on my TBR list for quite some time. I liked what I was hearing about the book—absolutely—and I like what I know about the author, formerly the chief creative officer of the impressive Philadelphia ad agency, Tierney, and now the president of Bubble Advertising, which trains its wise eye on the xx's among us. Simmons has been called one of the most winningest ad writers on the east coast, and you don't have to read more than a clutch of pages from this fine novel to know you are in good hands. The woman sees. The woman can write. And her dialogue snaps and sizzles.
The Bird House is a weaving book—diary passages tell us the tale. We alternate between the early months of 2010 and the heady days of 1967—between memories that our narrator wishes she could suppress and memories she hopes never to forget. The diary entries may be a necessary structural vehicle, but they never interfere with the narrative, nor do they get in the way of Ann Biddle's remarkable voice, more ironic than nostalgic, perhaps, and often funny, despite the dark secrets that she keeps.
Here's an example of what I mean. You'll have to purchase the book to read more.
A handful of men around my age sat on stools, looking as if they'd stopped off to have a few drinks and pick up their wives' birthday cards. Familiar red baskets of glistening onion rings and French fries slide across the wooden bar with a kind of grace impossible to find at a fast-food restaurant. There is more to inexpensive food than inexpensive ingredients: there has to be humility. Hardworking humility. I was comforted by the dirty aprons and dented spoons; they spoke of effort and toil. The muscles in the young woman's arm flexed as she scooped the ice cream for Ellie's float; anything good, anything worthy, I wanted to tell her, took some doing.