Love Letter to Lola by Carmel Bird

Love Letter to Lola
Carmel Bird
Spineless Wonders
Reviewed by Joy Lawn
Released May 2023
ISBN 9781925052961
RRP $24.99
Category: Adult Fiction

Love Letter to Lola by Carmel Bird (published by Spineless Wonders)

(This review was commissioned by  Books+Publishing and is reproduced with permission)

Carmel Bird was the recipient of the 2016 Patrick White Literary Award and is a respected author of fiction and nonfiction. 

Love Letter to Lola, a compilation of 18 short stories (most published elsewhere but worth consolidating here) is narrated by birds, animals, a spider, cockroach, unicorn, humans and even an angel. The stories explore Bird’s preoccupation with endangered and extinct animals and their resurrection, as well as the subjects of global annihilation, science, art, religion, history and lutruwita (Tasmania), where she grew up.

The opening and titular tale is a tribute to Lola, a deceased Spix’s macaw. Although the only ‘letter’ in the collection, it acts as a communiqué to the reader, readying us for the book’s subsequent concerns and threads that traverse time, place and possibility.

Story highlights include ‘Fertile and Faithful’, about the loss and return of the thylacine; ‘Speed Bonnie Boat’, which correlates the Martian invasion of England to the British invasion of Tasmania; ‘Two-Thirds of The Truth’, about drowned storyteller Trixie Mean, who believed in unicorns and angels; and ‘Recording Angel’, a substantial piece that unites many of the preceding strands. The author then examines each story in an extended ‘Reflection’ at the end of the book.

This avant-garde collection is playful, disquieting, witty and hopeful. Each narrative voice brings its owner to life and is rendered with love. Love Letter to Lola is recommended for readers of Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey, The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay and The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett.

Books+Publishing reviewer: Joy Lawn has worked for independent bookshops and blogs at Paperbark Words. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.

Link to the review at Books + Publishing

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