I just reviewed my pal Chris Barzak’s Birds and Birthdays over at GoodReads, so I thought I’d make my words do double-duty and post them here:
Disclaimer: Chris Barzak is a friend.
That said, I would love his writing even if I didn’t know what a warm and wonderful guy he is. This collection, three stories both inspired by and working as tributes to three surrealist painters, might sound from the outset as a little too precious: lush, poetic fantasy growing from lush, fantastic visual art. You might worry that there’s nothing solid to grab onto.
Worry not. Just as he did in his 2007 novel ,One for Sorrow Barzak grounds everything in solid, tactile imagery, and breathing human characters. My favourite is “The Guardian of the Egg” which draws its inspiration from Leonora Carrington’s “The Giantess.” As I finished that story, it struck me that it would have been hella good to have read it right after seeing that biopic about Carrington that came out, what, eighteen years ago? But then it would also be illuminating to read these stories after one had just drunk in some of the work from the central artists (all women, all more or less ignored in favour of the male “giants” of the movement).
I’m rambling, and not giving a sense of the book. It’s beautiful and poetic without giving up story for poetry. It’s short, but it will stay with you. If you like Bradbury for the dreaminess, but feel there isn’t enough edge, then you might want to go for this book.
Note of appreciation: the ebook is reasonably priced. I know that a slim volume like this from a smaller press has to carry some cost to it, but it was nice to get the ebook for less than half of the print cost. Aqueduct Press could teach some of the big boys about pricing.