Sunday, May 8, 2022

A Coincidence of Pigeons

The collective noun for a group of pigeons is basically "a flock of pigeons" or, in professional breeding circles, "a kit (or kitte) of pigeons," but for my reading-and-blog purposes, it shall be "a coincidence of pigeons," making it a Random Coinciday in the blog!

I've read a lot of books over these past couple of years (and past couple of Covid weeks), but, coincidentally, I just read two novels with pigeons in them: Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets, by Evan Roskos, and Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, by Kathleen Rooney. I had acquired Cher Ami quite some time ago, and it waited patiently in a to-read stack on my coffee table for the exact right moment to be read, and that moment came during my isolation week. In 2018, at the 100th anniversary of World War I, the Great War, the war to end all wars, I immersed myself in lots of WWI reading and movie-viewing, sort of curating a WWI film festival for the library. So I was well aware of the famous carrier pigeon, Cher Ami, and how she saved the Lost Battalion. And also how she was misunderstood as a "he." Hence, the male version of her French name. 

Kathleen Rooney develops all this so beautifully in Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, also giving us a full look at the major who led his men into the Argonne Forest, following orders, and doing it brilliantly and efficiently, thus, accidentally, leading many of them to their deaths or maiming. Alas! Part of the charm of this book is that the chapters alternate in point of view, between the pigeon and the major. It was easy to believe in the way pigeons might "think," how their homing instinct might work, and how consciousness continues--especially if you are taxidermied and live on in the Smithsonian Institution. 

So probably Cher Ami pre-disposed me to pick up Dr. Bird's Advice to Sad Poets, to find out what a real pigeon/imaginary therapist might "say" to a depressed high school boy. Also, sometimes I am a sad poet myself. And I do love this book's cover (see above; at hand is the movie cover). I am glad that the boy also gets a human therapist. I watched a lot of movies over the past few years, but only today did I realize that Dr. Bird was released as a movie in 2021. (You can watch it on Hulu. But I can't.) I liked how the humor in this book ran gently under the depression and family dysfunction, and I loved Dr. Bird!

Here in real life, the sun has come out! I am clearing out gardens, looking at the pink and white bleeding heart and dark lilacs, and birdwatching. Coincidentally, my parents have actual nesting doves at their house!

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