Friday, April 25, 2014

Bird Skinner by Alice Greenaway

Jim Kennoway is a curmudgeon, an angry seventy year old loner. In the summer of 1973, after losing a leg to disease and unhealthy living, he decides to live alone at his family’s beach house on Fox Island off the coast of Maine. Here his lack of mobility and heavy drinking make him even angrier. He relishes a solitary life until August when a young woman from the Solomon Islands arrives for a visit. Cadillac is the daughter of Tosca Baketi, who was Jim’s native scout and guide when he fought in the South Pacific during World War II. She is on her way to study at Yale’s medical school. A state department agency has decided she should spend a month with Jim to get accustomed to life in the United States. Jim, who was unaware of her existence and never really thought of Tosca since the war, is not happy about her presence. Sensing and respecting his aversion to company, she keeps her distance. He does his best to be hospitable. Over the course of time he comes to like and admire Cadillac. He also mulls over his life story, not just the time spent with Tosca during the war but also his childhood, marriage and academic career studying birds. All his life Jim had been a loner and passionate about his likes and dislikes. He had been a world traveler, familiar with Southeast Asia and the islands of the South Pacific before the onset of the war. But now, having lost his wife, his leg and his profession, his world has shrunk to Fox Island. His likes have narrowed to liquor, cigarettes, birds, Hemingway and Treasure Island. Human nature is complicated. Cadillac, descended from headhunters and cannibals, is sweet-natured and accommodating. Jim, whose father was a doctor and grandfather an industrialist, has been cruel and even savage during his lifetime. Bird Skinner by Alice Greenaway examines the emotional lives of people caught in the web of history and their own weaknesses. 

Check out The Bird Skinner @ the library!