One Bird’s Choice by Iain Reid

One Bird’s Choice is Iain Reid’s debut novel and it is a light-hearted, entertaining, and at times hilarious read.  The novel chronicles a year in the life of the author who is out of money and can’t get a career off the ground,  and so ends up living with his parents.  His parents are quirky and fun, if not slightly eccentric, and almost certainly some of their characteristics will remind you of your parents.  Iain’s parents live on a small farm near Ottawa and the highlights of the book for me were his descriptions of the various animals inhabiting the farm and their relationship to Iain and his parents.  In particular, his description of Lucius, the farm’s resident (and lone) guinea fowl, had me laughing out loud.  Iain’s relationship with Lucius almost serves as a metaphor for his year of living with his parents: at first he is angry and disgusted with Lucius (who is a less-than-attractive and fairly annoying bird) and frustrated with himself for having had to move home again; by the end of the novel he is at peace with life on the farm, enjoying Lucius’s company, and gaining confidence with his burgeoning writing career.  While I enjoyed the novel overall I will say that there were some very anti-climactic parts, where you feel that Iain is setting the stage for a tumultuous chapter (for example his parents leave Iain to tend to the farm for four days, during lambing season) but the potential excitement and drama just peters out.  Perhaps the novel could have done with a bit more fiction and a little less truth.  The writing will also not blow you away.  You will not find yourself chewing over poetic descriptions or thought-provoking insights.  It is a fairly simple story, perfect for a lazy afternoon’s read.

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