THE BLUEBIRD CAFE by Carmel Bird

THE BLUEBIRD CAFE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A first novel from Australian writer Bird about a Tasmanian town, its inhabitants, and a replica of a town built under a glass dome: a delightful fable whose parts fit together with the integrity of a Joseph Cornell miniature. Reality and fantasy meet in this tale set in Copperfield, a little bush town that turns ghostly but is rebuilt under a glass dome by The Best People as the Historic Museum Village--''the Disneyland of the Antarctic.'' In 1985, Bedrock Mean is the only inhabitant of the original town (as opposed to the replica). She's the mother of Lovelygod, a midget-child born in 1960 who disappeared in 1970 and has never been found--and who is now a figure of near-legend. Mean's brother Carrillo went looking for Lovelygod and ended up ``running some center for the finding of lost children in America.'' Virginia O'Day also figures prominently: she lived in Copperfield as a teen-ager and became a writer. We're treated to her early diaries, to a series of interviews with her, and even to letters she wrote to Charles Dickens (``The trouble is, I am a girl''). Then the narrative magically doubles back on itself when it changes point of view; and, finally, after poetic prose and meditations on extinction, after lovely pseudo-history and reflections by O'Day (``It seems to be a very Australian story, the story of Lovelygod. Children disappear without a trace''), we come round to ``A Reader's Guide to the Bluebird Cafe,'' where various people and places are defined in glossary fashion. A curious fable, then, written with the precision of a Nabokov, that creates its own world and makes that world vital. Bird manages in brief sections to construct an odd and endearing place, filled with its unique inhabitants: a sweet-natured looking- glass version of Twin Peaks.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1991
ISBN: 0-8112-1156-8
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: New Directions
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1991




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