- Paperback: 100 pages
- Publisher: Anvil Press; 1 edition (Jan. 16 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1895636035
- ISBN-13: 978-1895636031
- Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 0.7 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 113 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,110,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Circle of Birds Paperback – Jan 16 1993
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
A Circle of Birds is NOT science fiction, nor a detective story. It does contain elements of the fantastic in a sometimes surreal or impressionistic way. Those elements are fantastic in the sense of altered perception rather than impossible events. The entire novel takes place on or before New Year's Day 2000, and in everyday or historical settings. The structure of the novel is a high concept. Chapters and scenes generally alternate between two characters. The first is living in 1999 in a hospital where he suffers from aminesis, which causes him to lose more of his most recent memories every day. As a result, every day he wakes with memories of his young as if they were current, recalling things ever farther in the past.
These chapters alternate with a character born in an earlier generation, and living his life and memories forward. But the memories are not always trustworthy. Are anyone's memories truly trustworthy? There is the feeling that somehow, sometime, these memory vectors will intersect; and as a result the book carries an air of expectancy that is finally fulfilled at the end.
Without giving too much away, the novel includes nicely wrought scenes set in the depression and World War II for the older character, and the 80's, 70's, and 60's for the younger character. The search for the truth of memories sometimes feels like a mystery, and setting it in a variety of recent historical settings enriches that aspect.
I note that this book has a fair amount of profanity and sexual references, including significant themes of male homosexuality for one character. This is definitely a grownup's book. It is also my pleasure that the book is brief, 99 pages in the trade format from Anvil Press. I suspect it comes in at just over 50,000 words. I miss the era when such books were common. It is a pleasure to read in two evening's sessions a rich story that is complete.
I enjoyed A Circle of Birds tremendously, with its air of uncertainy counterpointing lush and accurate descriptions, and its exploration of fallible memory and the inherent tragedy that implies. But it's helpful to know ahead of time that this is far more like Trenholm's "Like Water in the Desert" set in the 1930-40's than his Steele Chronicles set in the 2040's.