In Jim Grimsley's remarkable first novel, Winter Birds, Danny Crell tells himself his own story, and in doing so illuminates the heartbreaking story of his father's violent tyranny over his mother, his sister, and his three younger brothers. The novel begins on Thanksgiving in rural North Carolina in a broken-down cottage the Crell children have nicknamed "The Circle House." Ellen Crell's attempts at a family meal are thwarted and finally disastrously ruined when Bobjay draws her into a violent quarrel. It leads to a chase wherein Bobjay is the hunter, Ellen the prey, and their five children are caught in between. Winter Birds is a haunting, unforgettable portrait of an American family shattered by violence, and of the lengths a woman will go to keep her family whole.
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Jim Grimsley Jim Grimsley was born in 1955 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and like his character, Danny Crell, moved around a lot with his family, following his father from job to job. In an essay about his writing, called "True Fiction," Grimsley says, "We were always poor, moving from house to house, with our every move the subject of discussion by our neighbors in the small farm community where we lived." Like Bobjay Crell in Winter Birds, Grimsley's father had lost his arm in a farm accident and was every bit as heavy and abusive a drinker as Bobjay. One night, in a drunken rage, he went so far as to light the family home on fire while they were all barricaded inside, against him. Even so, Grimsley has some compassion for his father."My father wasn't at all prepared to be married or to be a father," he says, "and to all of a sudden have children -- children with big problems. They were terribly in debt by the time I was five. . . . Father not only lost his arm, he lost his job after he'd already waived his right to file for any kind of insurance claim. The farmer did him dirty. So he had all that anger, and he's 23 or 24 and his life is already ruined. I feel really bad when I think of that side of him. He kept us fed, he didn't give up, but he could never stop being just furious. The only people he had any power over in his life were his family." Sadly, Grimsley's father later committed suicide. Grimsley went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he studied creative writing. Around the time of his father's death, he began to write Winter Birds."I have vivid memories of my family, of the way we lived, and my writing feels very powerful when I am working out of this material," he says. "These memories are often very unpleasant and lead to stories that are cathartic to read, but hard to sell to publishers. But I think you really do see, in writers nowFrom Kirkus Reviews:
Although playwright Grimsley graces it with an effective device--an adult narrator recounts the story to the young protagonist in the second person--this emotional debut staggers under the weight of preciousness. There is no lack of action, as Danny and his siblings and their mother, Ellen, try to stay out of the way of their raging father, Bobjay. Danny is a hemophiliac (his mother tells him he has ``special blood'' and therefore needs a lot of care). The immediacy won by the second-person voice and the suspense provided by the spectacle of hemophiliacs (one of Danny's brothers also is afflicted) constantly in harm's way can't make up for the thin story, which basically consists of the family drifting from house to house as the domestic violence continues. Danny and his sister, Amy Kay, name each house: ``The Circle House,'' for example, with its ring of rooms, announces foreboding and a condition from which there is no exit. Bobjay, who lost an arm in a farming accident, is likely to be set off by the frustration of not being able to work, by the medical bills for his hemophiliac sons, and by jealousy. Feeling that one landlord's willingness to repair the house has more to do with Ellen than with Sheetrock or plumbing, Bobjay gets drunk and goes on a rampage. A major flaw in this work is that the cycles of violence are predictable and indistinguishable, and consequently the novel becomes just another pale addition to the growing Southern cult of Faulkner wannabes. Aside from Bobjay's fling in the truck with Ellen's sister, Grimsley gives few glimpses into Ellen's rationale for staying in this marriage or into her family history. Grimsley succeeds in re-creating Danny's claustrophobia, but the family's isolation makes it difficult to determine when the story takes place. Authentically brutal but not much more. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Descripción Touchstone, 1997. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. 1st Scribner Pbk. Fiction ed. Nº de ref. de la librería DADAX0684829916
Descripción Touchstone, 1997. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Never used!. Nº de ref. de la librería P110684829916