Bird Song weaves mythology into our present reality, juxtaposing waves of mythic cerulean sea with a snowy winter’s day in the Windy City, where Thelsie lives with an alcoholic uncle. The fluency of her exit strategy in this opening scene carefully lands us on an Ali-Smith-esque beach, possibly in Heaven. But this novel satisfyingly dives into the other world, replete with untouched olive trees, cypress, oaks, alien looking plants and wildflowers.
Hearing a voice that reminds Thelsie of her mama’s choir singing, she wanders inland to meet the locals. An appreciation for the natural world pervades the island of past and future, rich in prickly grass, ferns, and ancient Greek speaking characters. If looks can kill, you can imagine what sounds can do. Sirens struggle to protect the environment from man, tied to the mast, and ship, dashed about on the rocks.
But that’s the joy of it, to see the metaphor of industry undone by its own gluttony and cursed pretension. This book gives me hope that humans can overcome their greed and protect the environment. Bird Song’s timely critique and uncluttered horizons liberate the mind: truly a pleasure to read.
Bird Song: A Novella by Clara Hume. Dragonfly Pub, November 2020.
Reviewer bio: Christine Wambui is a passionate freelance writer from Kenya, who covers socio-economic, environmental, fashion related, and women’s issues. Her writing draws on a wide variety of work and life experiences.