One Bird’s Choice. Iain Reid. In the Argo Digital Catalog.
I met Iain Reid at the Canadian Booksellers Association annual meeting in Toronto this spring. I was taken with him because while most people were reading the newest not-yet-released books he was quietly enjoying a Steinbeck novel. After talking to him for a while about his views on art and literature I figured I should read his book. He was funny and well-spoken so I figured his book would too. It is.
The book is about moving back home to live with his parents 10 years after having moved out. He is moving in because a part-time gig at CBC in Ottawa makes the situation a good temporary choice. The job ends way before the stay with his parents does. He winds up spending a year living with his parents on their hobby farm. I have been among the unemployed and felt the shame and anger that can arise from the situation. As such I feel like I understand Iain and he understands me. I think anyone that has been unemployed, felt useless or moved back home for any reason would like this book.
Iain’s parents jump off the page. They are alive and wonderful. The dialogues they share are funny and real. When the rest of the family comes home at Christmas Iain finds himself whistling for them to show them what he has been up to/what he has proven to be talented at in the past year. This sort of humor is worked into the whole book. Ultimately Iain learns to appreciate the quite everyday lifestyle of his parents. The “lesson” is very humdrum and clichÃ© but in Reid’s hands that is perfectly alright because he is an able writer with enough wit to carry the story.
I recommend this book to people that have moved back home and to parents whose children have done so. This is not a book to change your life, but it will make you smile.