Birds for Writers…

November 15, 2010 § 11 Comments

photo taken on University Ave in Columbia, MO by DCL

We know that birds are terrortiorial and not all sweetness and light. They fight, they’re bitchy, they squawk (cheep) and holler (caw). But they sing and warble and trill, and they soar.

We watch them, love them and wonder what it would be like if one would eat from our hand, maybe sit momentarily on our palm and let us sense the down of its feathers and wait for the quiver of its hearbeat, ’til it flies off.

Birds have been the topic of a writers for ages.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott  (you’ve heard many rave about this one. It deserves it, from a writer’s point of view). She also has a novel called Imperfect Birds. (didn’t know that.)

The Birds (movie) by Alfred Hitchcock (nope. watching it once was enough. I don’t like seeing the birds turn even though overall, it was mob mentality. nope, once was enough )

Book of Dead Birds by Gail Brandeis (I mentioned this one more than  a dozen blog entries ago) and I did start reading it but I’ll tell ya, it’s different and I had to reread the first 10 pages several times to see what was going on. Anyway, I’ll report more on it later. It’s good. Disturbing in its way, but good.

Birds of America by Lorrie Moore (short stories – excellent)

Birds of America by John James Audubon (the quintessnetial guide. Takes up serious bookshelf real estate, though.)

Bye Bye Birdie (movie)  Not one darn thing to do with birds. Threw it in here for fun. It’s a 1963 musical directed by George Sidney. Fun? yeah. Interesting cast including Dick van Dyke, Janet Leigh and Ann-Margret.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If you can think about this book/story without thinking about Gregory Peck, you’re ahead of the game. It’s also telling, that Harper Lee was friends with Truman Capote. Writers that hung out together. Who woulda guessed?

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. Disturbing. Not the friendliest  bird in town. And then there’s that bit about the ravens at the Tower of London.

Icarus and Daedalus – myth. But who doesn’t think, at least once, about how cool it would be to actually fly?

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. 1969, coming of age story – would we now call it “memoir”? Nevetheless, an autobiography, from victim to self assured woman. Resonates.

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami.. Haven’t read it. But Bellezza inspired me to get as far as buying it so it’s on the TBR stack and I’m grateful.

Blackbird from the Beatles’ White Album. “Blackbird singing in the dead of night…take these broken wings and learn to fly…” Of course you know the words.

The above are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of “birds” and lit/songs/screenplays/poetry.
Read or seen anything with “birds” in it lately?

May your Muse take flight with you on board.


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§ 11 Responses to Birds for Writers…

  • Ruth says:

    So you and I have both been bird watching from our red chairs.

    I love this post! All of it, all those books to reflect on.

    I have a copy of Audubon’s bird book and wrote a post about it once. What an extraordinary thing he did, just to chronicle all the birds (having to shoot them first!). There is a portrait of him in the White House, holding that gun. Then the feat of getting the book published is extraordinary. It turned out to be hugely expensive to get published, but it is perhaps the most wonderful book of published illustrations ever.

  • shoreacres says:

    And here’s a little bird to remind us just what can be required if we really want to fly!

  • Kathleen says:

    Wow, loved this post with all of the bird references. I’m off to check a few of these items out since you have reminded me of a few that I wanted to read from before.

    • oh says:

      Ruth – Hurrah for red chairs! so gald to hear from you. And nowo that we’ve re[instated the drapes on the patio windows for winter (drat – less light, but more warm) I may have to turn to Audubon for my (winter) bird fix!

      Shore- where on earth did you find this? I love it. Have shown it to several people already. You rock! Yup, gonna look at it again!

      Kathleen – isn’t it fun to look at booklists? and think about them, too. I really gotta finish that BK of DEAD BIRDS and see how it goes and report back. Stay tuned!

  • jeanie says:

    what a splendid photo — I’ve been watching the birds, too, gathering en masse, and waiting — for what? I remember tormenting Greg and Kevin (Kevin says he’s still scarred by it!) watching the birds when they were about 11 and 13. “Oh, this isn’t bad,” they said. But the covers were over their head soon enough!

    Lots of good memories with the books you listed, lots of favorites. And of course Bye Bye Birdie, because — why not?

  • Sue Z says:

    What a fun post. Actually, your photo reminds me very much “The Birds” (the movie you will never see again — i.e., the scary part where the crows are gathering on the monkey bars and on the telephone wires near the schoolhouse — I been to that schoolhouse in Bodega Bay, that’s the kind of fan I am of the movie). I’ve seen it so often, I can quote from it. (It’s the end of the world!!)

    I LOVED the Kiwi animation above — sooo cute. It worked on me like a tonic. Thanks for sharing.

    When I read this post, I immediately thought of “Sweet Bird of Youth” — both the film with gorgeous Paul Newman and the play. I love just about anything that T.W. has written.

  • oh says:

    Jeanie – hilarious that the boys swore BIRDS wasnt scary – I did the same thing, too and then ended up fleeing the room. High fives to your boys on that one!

    Sue – I know – cool animation that Linda (Shoreacres) found! So you’re a BIRDS fan – I try,I continue to try to sit still through supsense/thriller/semi-horror films. Without success. And I’d forgotten about SB of Y. Must revisit. I’m on the verge of sending myself to my room…to read!

  • Mel u says:

    “The Canary” is one of Katherine Mansfield more beautiful stories-set in her beloved New Zealand-it shows a real love for a bird-your blog looks great

  • Arti says:

    Lovely post, oh! You’ve listed some of my faves, AL’sBird By Bird, ‘Blackbird’, Harper Lee and Gregory Peck, and I always have a bird book in the backseat of my car. Allow me to add one more, to alleviate the after effects of Hitchcock’s horror flick, you can watch this doc time and time again, and still be mesmerized and inspired: Winged Migration (2001).

  • aubrey says:

    I love all birds – even the ones that people tend to look down on: pidgeons, crows, etc.

    Boyfriend and I were at the beach last week, and as I was designated photographer (of him surfing) it got a little boring between waves. My eye wandered until I saw a speck of white far out at sea – I zoomed in on it: it was an egret standing all alone on an island of kelp. It must have thought itself quite lonely; little did it know that it was being spied upon from the shore!

    And yes, it is a sin to kill a mockingbird; they “don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy”.

  • ds says:

    Fabulous photo–and all those wonderful books (several at the tippy top of the personal fave list)! Hurry up and read Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; I’d so love to know what you think!

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