Knight, Michael. “Birdland.” Goodnight, Nobody. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003.
Raymond, the protagonist of “Birdland,” knows how to capitalize on the African parrots that migrant every fall to his tiny town of Elbow, Alabama. The parrots have brought Ludmilla Haggarsdottir (aka The Blond), an ornithologist from New Hampshire. Having nowhere to stay, The Blond rents a room with Raymond and becomes his girlfriend. His second source of income is wood carvings of the parrots for all the tourists who “flock” to Elbow (pun totally intended). Elbow in and of itself is an interesting little community of less than 12 souls, all fixated on the game of college football. I fell in love with Raymond and his band of misfit neighbors. They live the simple life without telephones or tvs. The Blond is the most colorful thing he’s seen since the arrival of the parrots.
Quotes I loved, “The African parrot can live up to eighty years…and often mates for life, though our local birds have apparently adopted a more swinging sexual culture due to an instinctive understanding of the rigors of perpetuation in a non-indigenous environment” (p 5) and “I want to tell her that the past is not only for forgetting” (p 14).
Reason read: June is national short story month. Are you tired of me saying that?
Author fact: In 2003 Knight taught at the University of Tennessee. The sad thing is, when you do a Google search for “Michael Knight” the first thing that pops up is the television show “Knight Rider.”
Book trivia: I’m going to sound like a broken record saying this but most of Knight’s short stories appeared in magazines (like Playboy) before they were published as a collection.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the very simple chapter called “Parrots” (p 104).