Jo Janoski\’s Blog

Writings, Observations, Poetry, Stories

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks January 7, 2007

Filed under: JO's Reading List — jojanoski @ 4:19 pm

Thanks to an e-pal in England (Thanks, Janice), I’ve found a new author to add to my Favorites list: Sebastian Faulks. I’ve just read Birdsong, copyright 1993. It is not just a good read. It is literature. The passion of love, the ignominious degradation of war–it’s all in there, and in some of the finest language I believe I’ve ever read.

Example–men returning from war:

The lean, expressionless creatures who stepped ashore … Their bodies and their clothes were encrusted with dirt and in their eyes was a blank intransigence.They moved with grim, automatic strength. They were frightening to the civilians because they had evolved not into killers but to passive beings whose aim was to endure.

When I read this passage, I pictured them as a melded, huge machine moving as one big piece, squeaking down the street on rusty wheels, humanity soldered together and motorized with no emotion left. That’s what I love about Faulk’s prose–it inspires new conceptions.

Another example, on death:

All my life I had lived on the presumption that there was no existence beyond … Then I heard the sound of my own life leaving me…It was so…tender.

This book is moving in a way that gives to you rather than takes away. It is grounded in truth. It’s timeless. Well worth the read.

Copyright 2006 JO Janoski


3 Responses to “Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks”

  1. Soulless Says:

    On the quote as regards men returning from war: concrete and powerful — I could imagine one of “them” staring “through” anyone brave enough to glance at “those” eyes. Thank you for sharing Faulks’s work. I’ll be on the lookout for his name. ^_^

  2. daniellejane Says:

    I am studying this book for my A Level literature. Do you have a page reference for the first quote above? The one about the “passive beings”. I’d like to use it in an essay where i’m proposing that humanity has become indifferent to itself and its own suffering.


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