Parakeet by Marie-Helene Bertino
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 3.6 MB
Acclaimed author of 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas Marie-Helene Bertino’s Parakeet is a darkly funny and warm-hearted novel about a young woman whose dead grandmother (in the form of a parakeet) warns her not to marry and sends her out to find an estranged loved one.
The week of her wedding, The Bride is visited by a bird she recognizes as her dead grandmother because of the cornflower blue line beneath her eyes, her dubious expression, and the way she asks: What is the Internet?
Her grandmother is a parakeet. She says not to get married. She says: Go and find your brother.
In the days that follow, The Bride’s march to the altar becomes a wild and increasingly fragmented, unstable journey that bends toward the surreal and forces her to confront matters long buried.
A novel that does justice to the hectic confusion of becoming a woman today, Parakeet asks and begins to answer the essential questions. How do our memories make, cage, and free us? How do we honor our experiences and still become our strongest, truest selves? Who are we responsible for, what do we owe them, and how do we allow them to change?
Urgent, strange, warm-hearted, and sly, Parakeet is ribboned with joy, fear, and an inextricable thread of real love. It is a startling, unforgettable, life-embracing exploration of self and connection.
Even the bird’s timing is pure brother, right before a wedding, what most people would regard as a joyful event. This is typical for my family, who treat happiness with suspicion. That very morning, I congratulated myself on completing the transition into normalcy without their destruction.
The bird and I both know he has been the silent member of our conversation all along.
If it helps, she says, you won’t find him.
“I won’t find him,” I agree. “Because I’m not going to look.”
Do you know where he is?
“I assume in the city somewhere, hiding in a theater.”
How long has it been since you’ve seen him?
The last time I saw Tom was at his own wedding, where he lay bloody on a gurney, asking me to hold his hand. It’s just that I’m so deeply unhappy, he says, in memory. I remember the taste of vanilla and his anemic, furtive fiancée, Sara Something.
You’re not going to find him, but it’s important that you try, she says. You’ll do it.
Her narrow eyes narrow further, narrow more. Where are we? What’s this murky room with only a couch? It’s like we’re in a stew.
“It’s called an antechamber. A room before a room.”
A room before a room, she says in that way she has, that cuts through our tense and familiar squalls. And what is your job? The non sequitur means to stall until she can figure out another way to get what she wants.
“I work with people who have traumatic brain injury. Normally they’ve been hurt in car accidents or on the job. I tell their life stories in court. Like my client Danny. He drove a big-rig dessert truck and was injured while filling it with gas.”
I guess somebody doesn’t like Sara Lee. The room’s grip releases. She performs inventory of what on her hurts. Pain is different now, she concludes. It’s more like sound in another part of the house. But I still hate my ass. Asses like ours never leave, even in the afterlife.
“You don’t have an ass,” I remind her. “You’re a bird.”
A bird today. Myself again tomorrow. We could disagree for eternity but there’s no one I’d rather sit with. I spread jam onto a scone and hold it out for her. Where does it come from—beat a dead horse?