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Book Review: Laura Harrington's A Catalog of Birds

For those of you who love the tactile feel of a print book in your hands, enjoy a beautiful cover that evokes a feeling of time and place, and also one that is a soft cover that acts like a dust jacket, you will appreciate the art that went into the presentation of A Catalog of Birds, even the header at the top of most of the printed pages is dressy .... unique. Almost forgetting that it is set in a forlorn Upstate New York town that I have actually visited and have family members who have lived and worked there for decades, I appreciated the novel for other reasons than my familiarity with the time and place. The writing!

"She closes her eyes and catalogues what she hears: water over stones, the creaking wallow of the rowboat. A cardinal, now two. Finch, eastern phoebe, common yellowthroat. The poplar leaves are the most distinct to her ear ... the swaying hemlocks, too. .... An egret rises from the marsh. The slow beat of its wings is barely audible, the sound of air moving over feathers so faint ... Stroke by stroke she finds her rhythm: prayer, blessing, benediction. ..."

Set during the Vietnam War, Laura Harrington's novel is about a family coming to terms with a young son and brother's injuries and mental health, just back from the front line. It's a story that was relevant yesterday, is relevant today, and will likely continue to be relevant in the future, as assimilating back into society after war may sometimes be more dangerous than the war itself.

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