Dec 01, 2020
The Bird Artist
Posted by Howard Norman

Howard Norman s The Bird Artist, the first book of his Canadian trilogy, begins in 1911 Its narrator, Fabian Vas is a bird artist He draws and paints the birds of Witless Bay, his remote Newfoundland coastal village home In the first paragraph of his tale Fabian reveals that he has murdered the village lighthouse keeper, Botho August Later, he confesses who and what drHoward Norman s The Bird Artist, the first book of his Canadian trilogy, begins in 1911 Its narrator, Fabian Vas is a bird artist He draws and paints the birds of Witless Bay, his remote Newfoundland coastal village home In the first paragraph of his tale Fabian reveals that he has murdered the village lighthouse keeper, Botho August Later, he confesses who and what drove him to his crime a measured, profoundly engrossing story of passion, betrayal, guilt, and redemption between men and women.The Bird Artist is a 1994 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

  • Title: The Bird Artist
  • Author: Howard Norman
  • ISBN: 9780312130275
  • Page: 407
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Bird Artist Howard Norman s The Bird Artist the first book of his Canadian trilogy begins in Its narrator Fabian Vas is a bird artist He draws and paints the birds of Witless Bay his remote Newfoundland

    Will Byrnes

    Storytelling lives here Set in Newfoundland, the tale centers on Fabian Vas, who, it is clear from a very early age, is a gifted artist with a penchant for drawing birds In the first paragraph we learn that he murdered a lighthouse keeper The rest is about getting to that This is a very engaging read, with interesting, quirky characters in an unusual place, that seems somehow quite familiar, any American small town uprooted and dropped on a rocky northern Canadian Atlantic coast and left to simm [...]


    The Bird Artist is a mystery, but an unusual one In most mysteries a crime is committed early in the story or maybe even before the story begins and the reader knows that eventually there will be a solution and perhaps even a confession But this isn t what happens in The Bird Artist In fact, the novel employs a plot device popularized by a TV series Remember Columbo, which starred the late Peter Falk Remember how the series utilized what came to be labeled the inverted detective story format The [...]


    I really do struggle to articulate what I found so compelling about this book The prose is spare, the characters are like trying to touch someone through a fog, the storytelling is strangely matter of fact And somehow this added up to a book where the pages turned on its own some individually lovely sentences and Margaret only partially explain it It might also be the rhythm of it he started strong and once you start this thing there s no good place to stop Anyway, I suppose the best way to see [...]


    There is a latent creepiness about the northeast section of North America Canada and the U.S that seems to bring out the Melvilles and Lovecrafts of the world Weird So I place this book within the gothic chapter of the Atlantic, where fog covers treacherous shoals and madness breeds within shuttered homes There s a reason the sun decides to set in the West, folks.Circa 1910 1911, the protagonist of this story makes a living by selling his own bird illustrations while living in a remote village o [...]

    Diane S ☔

    The Bird Artist Such a different, yet compelling story, set before World War I in an isolated part of Canada, Witless Bay, Newfoundland Fabian, grows up here, a place where everyone knows everyone else, where gossip is spread almost instantaneously, where it takes over a month a get a reply to a letter The novel starts with Fabian admitting to having killed someone, but this is so much than a murder mystery It is also a coming of age story, a story where the setting and Fabian s love for birds [...]


    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from start to finish, so much so that I must soon read The Museum Guard by the same author It s the dialogue that grabs you The banter I wish I could come with such replies when talking light and piercing at the same time I enjoyed reading about Newfoundland Get out your atlas so you can find the islands, bays, coves mentioned And the birds It is terribly fun to look those up too so you know exactly what the narrator is speaking of Marvelous characters i fell for [...]

    Elizabeth Gonzalez

    Birds and the making of a bird on the page is the logic of my heart And yours So Isaac Sprague, bird artist, writes to his student, Fabian Vas, the narrator of Howard Norman s acclaimed novel.Life in The Bird Artist follows its own logic, and this constitutes one of the chief delights of the novel Early in the narrative, Fabian tells of a time when his childhood friend, Margaret Handle, crashes her bike into an old man, sending him over a cliff It seems clear that the crash was an accident, and [...]


    Fabian Vas, the narrator, introduces himself in the beginning of the book I am a bird artist, and have or less made a living at it Yet I murdered the lighthouse keeper, Botho August, and that is an equal part of how I think of myself In the story that follows, Fabian reflects back on the events that led up to the murder.Fabian lives in the isolated village of Witless Bay on the eastern coast of Newfoundland in the early 20th Century It is so remote that it takes a month for a letter to be deliv [...]


    Imagine getting to know a character by what he says and does and not how he looks Now imagine a novel opening with a character confessing a murder If 10 people read this book and were asked afterwards to describe the protagonists, one would have 10 completely different and valid responses A real fave of mine.


    The Bird Artist was nominated for the National Book Award in 1994 I came across the title recently in a list of new paperback releases The story is set in a remote village in Newfoundland at the beginning of the 20th century I thought the stark setting was beautifully evoked and the characters totally believable and interesting as individuals The plot involves various forms of violence, transgressions, and anguish, but these are mostly recounted in a muted way I found it a sad and bleak tale.


    Scattered, unpleasant, improbable, and lacking any comprehension of its characters or their motivations, this tasteless mess of a novel clunks along to an unneccessarily melodramatic conclusion with the grim concentration of a third grader practicing the oboe Don t bother.


    This novel speaks of natural isolation as if all the people are their own little islands Detached immensely And all of them, even Fabian, seem to have predestined outcomes And the routes to that outcome far from ones of their own choices, on top of it The voice of Fabian is so detached as to seem as if he were a 3rd person, IMHO It s as if he is speaking about events too as looking at them from the outside Things and people access him, not in reverse And all the people seem so singular to themse [...]

    Ronald Wise

    This novel eventually proved to be very captivating Initially it seemed merely an opportunity to learn about human and avian life on the extreme eastern edge of Canada in a remote village called Witless Bay on the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland Even for such a small community, the characters including the narrator, Fabian Vas were not easy to know, but with patience and acute observation their true natures slowly emerge to both the reader and narrator.So many aspects of this novel constantly rei [...]


    Quirky is the word that springs to mind about this book I enjoyed it, though not as much as The Museum Guard which I read some years ago and loved It is set in Newfoundland in the early years of the 20th century in a place called Witless Bay The first person narrator, Fabian Vas, is the bird artist of the title This passion, and the fact that he killed a man which he tells us in the first paragraph of the book are the two main things by which he defines himself The book is his journey to and bey [...]


    That moment when you pull a book from the bookstore shelf, open the cover and find yourself dropping into a chair only to surface from the pages a full chapter in Well, that is the moment a good book has fallen into your hands Norman, a National Book Award finalist, begins this tale in 1911 A story written in spare, haunting language, this is the story of Fabian Vas, who draws and paints the birds of Witless Bay The narrator is haplessly caught up in sudden love and murder in a remote Newfoundla [...]

    Tyler Kazokas

    If I could give this book 10 stars I would Margaret Handle has to be one of the most interesting female characters ever written.

    Dani Peloquin

    Fabian Vas is the main character and engrossing narrator of this novel Within his first paragraph is states that, Obscurity is not necessarily failure, though I am a bird artist, and have or less made a living at it Yet I murdered the lighthouse keeper, Botho August, and that is an equal part of how I think of myself From here he tells the story of growing up in a secluded fishing village in the early 1900s Vas develops his skills as a bird artist which means that he draws birds He begins a cor [...]


    Nowadays, people have to travel to get important memories Not me 35 I ll get up at 4 30 to make your coffee, my mother said But I won t be in a civil mood 37 His face collapsed the only thing worse for Boas than being overcharged was not being allowed to pay what was rightfully due 60 Then I got dressed and went back to my house I drank coffee and drew birds all day 66 I sat with my sketchbook, trying to capture how cormorants perched on buoys, fanned out their wings like a closet rack full of b [...]


    As soon as I opened this book and started reading I wanted to stay in Witless Bay, Newfoundland, in 1900 I almost didn t care about the story, or the story was secondary, as long as I could stay in the setting, it was that relaxing The birds, the water, the boats, the general store this setting was a vacation for my tired mind The characters were quaint and eccentric and mostly likable, except when they weren t of course, I don t claim to understand them There was a lot going on, drama wise, but [...]


    I m not sure how i feel about this book overall I read it quickly, and usually that s a sign that i liked it Then again, i had so many boring hours of sitting in airports, on airplanes, and in Red Cross waiting rooms that i might ve been able to finish a much longer book in the same time.It was sort of recommended to me by my mother while visiting her in Florida From the very first, i wondered what was going on with the narrative voice I think Fabian Vas is just an extremely detached character a [...]

    John Pappas

    Not awful, but I have no desire to read the other books in the trilogy Some solid writing in parts, but the characterization is oblique and many characters seem to lack authentic or believable motivations they are not uninteresting, but just a bit rudderless There seems to be a subsubgenre of stories set in Newfoundland, P.E.I or Nova Scotia I.e The Shipping News by Proulx full of stoic fishermen and stern women There may be a preacher and a mad woman, or an eccentric protagonist struggling to r [...]

    Garlan ✌

    I was reading a friend s TBR list and came across this little gem I read this book MANY years ago so long ago I can scarcely remember the main characters I do remember that it was my first Howard Norman book, and that I liked it immensely I d like to give it a 5 star rating, but I can t remember it well enough to do so, and I realize that time often plays a role in how fondly I remember a book Perhaps its time for a re read


    Witty, captivating story So many great lines in this book The very first paragraph sets the stage, I am a bird artistt I murdered the light house keeper P 37 Jealousy leads to stupid behavior even among Christians P 30 eared as bored as a child in church on his birthday I highly recommend this quick read.


    I love reading books set in around Newfoundland and this is no exception The setting is the early 1900s and revolves around a young man, who is a bird artist He is also involved in a murder There is also adultery and plenty of other drama, to sink your teeth in Highly recommended.


    The only way I can describe this book is subtle, in a good way I loved the writing style and the well rounded characters.

    Neal Skorka

    Interesting characters Pace is a little slow Worth the read.

    Cynthia Robinson

    Howard Norman achieves something that makes me, as a writer, green with envy, and also a little bit in love with him He writes the simplest of stories it could almost be an opera plot, maybe someone should make this an opera, I d vote for Dello Joio Dunno if he writes operas, but he should, and should start with this The strongest character by far is Margaret Handle, the narrator sramour First runner up would be the narrator s mother, Alaric Vas.Fabian Vas, the narrator, is, in fact, a rather we [...]

    Bill Purdy

    Loaned to me by a friend, a promotional copy of The Bird Artist languished on my book shelves, unread, unloved, for 20 years It is no longer unread, but it may still be unloved.Set in Newfoundland in the early 1900s, the story seems mostly concerned with drawing quirky characters with funny names than it does with telling an engaging story Plenty happens, I suppose the murder foreshadowed on page one being the central event around which the characters dance but the events seem to exist merely as [...]


    Despite having a weak plot that goes nowhere, an uninspiring main character, and very little character growth in general, I found myself thinking that in the case of the Bird Artist, it s not the destination but the journey that matters The writing is absolutely beautiful, each word worth lingering over, the characters are quirky and worthwhile, the setting takes you to another place and time entirely, and it hits you with wisdom and emotion when you least expect it And the depth of Margaret Han [...]


    National Book Award Finalist AVWC Book Club selection I have trouble with 5 stars denoting awesome , but this book grabbed me in the first paragraph when the narrator, Fabian Vas, introduces himself as a bird artist and states that he murdered the lighthouse keeper Norman s excellent story telling style makes this a page turner throughout Well liked by the book club, although we had trouble explaining some of the meanings maybe it was just a good story Historical fiction in the sense of evoking [...]

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      Published :2020-09-10T05:16:35+00:00