Books

Book Review: The Origin of Birds in the Footprints of Writing by Raymond St. Elmo

Trying to explain this book might give too much away of the mystery you have to discover. But I can tell you that the book transports the obsession of the old masters, Poe, Kafka, to name a few, to a new, modern stage with programmers, NSA, hacking, and video games. There is a hint of that same feverish writing. You have to believe that Clarence (the main character) and the bird tracks will lead you to something meaningful. And they do. For me to speculate about why this book was written and what the special is would again spoil the story for you, and I don’t want to do that. (And no, I don’t stay silent, because I don’t know what that special is. I believe I do, or at least my take on the matter.)

This book is for anyone who is looking for something different from the usual story-driven books with a clear structure. That said, I’m not saying the book has thrown out all the convention, no. There is a story, there is an opening, middle, and ending. But a good writer knows how to break the pattern and bring something new to it, and Raymond St. Elmo is a good writer. This book is a dialogue between the character and the story, the narration and the reader, and the old masters and the writer. So many levels to stay and wonder about the written word and the bird tracks. Never forget those. A weird book with a hint of magic painted against reality.

My thoughts, oh, there were places I was at the edge of my seat, not knowing where we (the character and I) would end up. I loved that feeling of mystery, and the book kept it from start to finish. However, sometimes I was a little lost. I decided not to struggle against such a notion, letting the words lead me, and that was the right decision. Because enjoying is better than getting caught in minor details or my personal taste. Yes, I could complain about the inconclusive occurrences and layering that might need clarity. Still, I see those as part of magical realism that I can let go of those issues. Also, the references to old books in the imagery and language sometimes went beyond what was needed in the story, but I can look past that too. All this because the book kept me reading, it surprised me, it was fresh, raw, and full of emotion. And I keep thinking catch-42 (not 22.) So, shoo, go and read the book, the birds are waiting for you.

Thank you for reading! Always greet the birds and the raccoons! Hello, Miss Bird! Hello, Miss Raccoon!

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