A Bird on Every Tree

Carol Bruneau. Vagrant (Nimbus, Canadian dist.), $19.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-77108-502-1
If it were not for the title, which echoes the folk song “Farewell to Nova Scotia,” readers might miss the complicated presence of birds throughout this collection of 12 beautifully crafted short stories by Bruneau (These Good Hands). They are the types of birds that often go unnoticed because they blend into their surroundings, unless one is inclined to look closely and listen more precisely—which is what Bruneau does. Her exceptional prose reveals how much there is to discover in the everyday. These stories empathetically follow characters who struggle with loneliness and loss even as they experience joy. “If My Feet Don’t Touch the Ground” blends birdsong with laughter and tears as a mother says goodbye to her son in Berlin. “Doves” takes place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where a nun struggles to help a man who asks her to bury a dead pigeon in a shoebox. To find humor in any of these stories, readers will need to allow for it to be there, to make a little space for lightness. Bruneau does not settle for cliché. Her prose is accessible and lean as she flits into her characters’ lives. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/07/2017
Release date: 03/01/2018
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