on September 8, 2003
The book is best described as "bird-y", like it's title. Whoever reads it will understand what I mean. In the center of the story stands an eccentric, introverted boy called Birdy, who's entire life is driven by an obsession with birds, and a dream - to fly and be free. The book opens with Birdy in a military mental hospital, traumatized by his experiences in WWII. His childhood friend, Al, has been called over to try and bring Birdy back to reality. At a loss of what to do, Al begins telling Birdy stories from their childhood, and recounting all the adventures they lived through together. Through Al's narrations and the remembrances they trigger in Birdy, the fascinating story of a most unlikely friendship unfolds. Al is a handsome, athletic Italian girl-chaser, with an abusive father and an obsessive need to prove himself. Birdy on the other hand, is a wild spirit. You can sense throughout the story how he feels caged, and reveres the birds he sees to be free. He constucts an aviary and raises canaries in his bedroom, studying them, learning their language, getting to know each one personally, and losing himself in their world. The descriptions of the canaries are so intense that the reader himself feels as though they are human, or he is a bird. Birdy is an amazing character - brave, self confident, a mechanical genius, who struggles to fit himself into human life, but who's mind works in a completely different way than anyone else's. The book tells the extraordinary story of the two friends, and is simply a pleasure to read and a refreshing change from the conventional.
on August 31, 1999
Birdy, as a novel, does not so much tell the story of friendship and its associated triumphs, or eleviate common support for the horrors of war. Instead, Birdy acts as a wake-up call for traditional notions of insanity, human behaviour and the traditional belief that individuals, as varied and complex as they are, can be labeled.
"We all have our own private kinds of craziness. If it gets in the way of enough people, they call you crazy."
Birdy is a disturbing insight into the minds of two men, each effected by the past, war and their own calculated decisions as rare individuals. I believe it makes the reader think twice before labeling the people that occupy their lives. Such a positive result can be no better applauded by a second reading .. and a third .. and a fourth.
"Sometimes you cant take it anymore yourself, so you tell somebody else you're crazy and they agree to take care of you."
on July 19, 2000
This is an incredible and beautifully told tale of friendship, sanity(& insanity,) obsession and the horrors of war. The second reading is even better! As a bird lover and owner, I especially enjoyed the details of what the experience of being a bird is really like. I can only suppose that William Wharton has spent time as a bird, or has some very close friends who are birds and were willing to describe the experience of "birdness" to him for this book. The story of friendship and growing up is quite moving and enjoyable with much humor and insight. The section dealing with the boys' job as dogcatchers should be skipped or abridged by the squeamish, (or animal lovers, such as my spouse, who take fiction for reality too easily!) Highly recommended! Two enthusiastic wings up! (P.S. Also recommended; "Dad" by William Wharton.)
on September 28, 2002
Thats right. One of the best books I have ever read. I have already purchased some 5 copies for my friends - to share the beauty of the book with them too. Its a masterpiece.
The depth of description about a bird, and its daily life, is described here in a way I have come across before. But thats not what its all about. There are many concepts discovered here, and it makes the reader ponder. Issues such as war, friendship, love, dreams, insanity and sanity.
I especially got involved in Birdy's dream. I am a bit of a dreamer too. He goes onto explore the fact that maybe we living now, is a dream. And the dream that both you and I will have tonight, is actually our real life. I liked this view.
Buy the book, its very much out of the ordinary, and I hope you really enjoy it as much as I did! Happy Reading!
on March 16, 2001
I just happened upon this book in my school's library one day last week. I decided to get it out if only because my own facination with flight seemed somewhat similar to the storyline. I read the whole thing that day, and I still can't get it out of my mind. I went back to the library maybe hoping for a sequel (I always do that), but since there was none I got out the only other Wharton books they had: Dad and A Midnight Clear. While they were both great books and I enjoyed them greatly (even though I'm usually a strictly scifi fan and this really far from my range), none of them are even half as good as Birdy. Theres something about that book that makes you think about it long after you've turned the last page. Now I need to get the movie.
on August 4, 1998
I first read BIRDY when it was published in 1978; I was going into the ninth grade. Since that fist reading, I have read it two other times--once in college while pretending to work at the library and once just recently for a book club I'm in. It is an amazingly memorable book about friendship and war and our definition of what is sane. Some of the scenes are so vivid that they have become a part of my own memory. I have explored other books by William Wharton, but none of them have equalled BIRDY. (DAD and MIDNIGHT CLEAR are also worth reading, though.) I remember the first copy I bought had a blurb on the front cover which read, "a classic for readers not yet born." I hope those words come true.
on January 6, 1997
Just as Moby Dick is not all about whales, Birdy is not all
about pigeons and canaries. In the novel, two young boys in
pre-WW II Philadelphia become strange but geniune friends
and grow to manhood sharing wonderful and bitter experiences.
That many of these experiences center around the charatcer
Birdy's desire to fly and become even more birdier is only
part of the story.
Told in a wonderful original style that gracefully shifts
in narrative perspective and language, the novel -- like a
bird in flight -- soars to uncommon heights from which we
see life from a new view.
Fantastic and artful writing.
on January 20, 2000
I bought this book after reading Whartons, "A MIDNIGHT CLEAR." Which is another excellent book. I put, "BIRDY" away for a while, and didn't get a chance to read it untill I started to commute on the subway to school. I couldn't put it down! This book is so inspiring! The tale of Birdy and Al is as real as it gets. If you like birds and WWII, then you must pick up this great book! I caught a glimpse of the "BIRDY" the movie on a idependent film channel..but now I'm dying to check it out!
on April 10, 1999
It portrays great friendship. Although the differences that Birdy and Al have, nothing gets between them. I mean if you or I were put in some of these situations we would probably back down and tell our friend that they were on there own.
on February 12, 2000
Great! Just great. Buy it or die..