There are books you read because you want to, books you read because they’re recommended, books you read because you’re required, books you read out of curiosity and books you read because you should. For me, Tracy Lindberg’s Birdie is a novel I was required to read for book club and a book I thought I should read because Lindberg brings voice in fiction to the narrative of murdered and missing indigenous women. While I’m glad I read it, I didn’t enjoy the novel, or think it was particularly well written.
That said I’m glad I read it because Lindberg offers a fresh representation of time and trauma: trauma as a kind of loop of time that Lindberg pairs with an indigenous way of knowing or making sense of time in its own circular sort of way. The titular Birdie recounts her story in a series of concentric loops. As she remains bed bound she flies through her own history sharing the stories that brought her to this point of intense introspection and an inability to literally or figuratively move (presumably forward). While much of the writing suffers from being over wrought and fussy, the structure is interesting in the looping and layering (though it does take sixty odd pages to figure out where and what is going on).
*SPOILER* The book club group discussed whether the celebratory ending was earned and whether we found it believable. I’ll admit at that point I was just glad Birdie was getting out of bed and getting on with things. It turns out I have little patience for working through feelings. Book club also wondered about the representation of men in the novel (they don’t come off well) paired with the acknowledgements section that explicitly acknowledges the men in Lindberg’s life. Hence we strayed a bit into a biographical reading.
I share these book club points not to make you super jealous of book club (obvs. you already are), but because I didn’t find myself captivated by the book while everyone else in book club did. So while I’m just as likely to say this isn’t a book to spend your reading time on, I acknowledge that others thought it was very good and/or very worthy. So I guess if you’re casting about for a novel that is neither particularly well written nor particularly captivating, but is likely to be talked about and is certainly one you might consider as a ‘should’ read… then on you go.