A Novel of Death And Gen Y Male Friendships
Bruce Von Stiers
There have been a lot of books written and films made about male friendships. Some are deep intellectual treatises and others are going strictly for laughs. Somewhere in between is a segment of storytelling that is kind of serious but with a wicked side slice of sarcastic humor. I just finished reading a book that falls into that latter category. The title of the book is We Are All Birds. It was written by Geoff Gray.
The book was published by Cassowary Press, a niche publisher with some intriguing titles under its belt.
The main character of this novel is Sheldon Wirth. Quickly approaching 30, Sheldon is having a bit of a crisis. It seems that his best friend Dent Brown has been diagnosed with an incurable bone marrow disease. Shel can't quite come to grips with Dent's forthcoming demise. So he goes about being indifferent and completely irreverent.
Joining in the mix is Joel. Reading about Joel made me think of Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother fame. Only not quite as cool. But every bit as cruel as Barney. Joel works for his uncle's company and seems to have a lot of time to perpetuate practical jokes and make obnoxious phone calls. Then there is Dafna who is Shel's ex-girlfriend. She's a bit of a Bohemian who has her own set of problems, some buried but others right there on the surface.
The story moves in and around Dent's illness as his three friends try to cope with the disease. And along with Dent's coming death, their own mortality. Only they really don't realize that they are doing this, especially Shel. He can't understand it at all, especially when Dent deserts treatment for the disease and goes to hang out in another part of the world.
The novel is funny, yet has raw emotions in some parts and becomes slightly tender in others. The humor was biting but there was a poignancy to the relationship between Shel and Dent that boils over into a kind of soft pedaled “bromance.” And just as Barney tries to insinuate that he's Ted's best on How I Met Your Mother, Joel tries to it seem like he is Dent's best friend. And at one point in the novel, the author reveals the sad circumstance behind the breakup of Shel and Dafna.
The press release for We Are All Birds says that the book has captured the essence of the heart and absurdity of Gen Y male friendships. I would say that the release had it pretty well pegged. While there are times that the novel might tug at your heartstrings, it will turn right around and slam you with some obnoxious twenty-something repertoire.
We Are All Birds is one of those types of books that I always take a sideways look at. I wasn't too sure about the plot of the novel. But I try to keep an open mind and read things I don't think I'd like. I was surprised at how well I did like it. I thought it was well written, with enough angst thrown against the obnoxious humor to round out the story. And if you've ever been around someone whose friend is dying, it can seem an awful lot like what Shel goes through. I really did enjoy reading it.
We Are All Birds is available at amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.
Check out the Cassowary Press web site for all the latest information on this and other book titles. That site can be found at www.cassowarypress.com .
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© 2013 Bruce E Von Stiers