A Bird on Every Tree won a 2017 The Very Best! Book Award for Short Stories.
Carol Bruneau is the author of six books, including the recent These Good Hands. Her 2007 novel, Glass Voices, was a Globe and Mail Best Book. She lives with her husband in Halifax, where she teaches writing at NSCAD University.
I had never read Carol Bruneau until receiving this ARC from Nimbus Publishing, and it made me a little anxious for here was a Maritime author I should have been familiar with, yet it is not humanly possible to have read books by all the different authors the East Coast provinces are blessed with. Coincidentally, at about the same time I received this book, I happened to be browsing the books at the Fredericton Value Village and came upon a copy of Glass Voices, her 2007 novel. I really wanted to read one of her novels before I read A Bird on Every Tree which is a short story collection. Simply put, I was blown away by Glass Voices, or more to the point, Ms Bruneau’s astounding command of words. She is definitely one of Canada’s best fiction writers, for Glass Voices (and A Bird on Every Tree too) is overflowing with word pictures, metaphors, and similes to the point that the reader is enraptured by the story and like a beautifully fulfilling dream, you don’t want it to conclude.
At an even dozen, the stories in A Bird on Every Tree are decidedly larger than the few pages they inhabit, dealing as they do with relationships (Burning Times, The Grotto, Crotch Rockets, Shelter, The Vagabond Lover), family (If My Feet Don’t Touch the Ground, Solstice, Polio Beach) and personal struggles like Marion’s in The Race, Sister Berthe’s in Doves, and Delia’s in Saint Delia. What is truly fascinating in reading this collection is the way Ms Bruneau captures each character’s voice, whether it is a mature woman, a man, or as in the case of Delia, a young girl with a learning disability, making it so real that we feel we are looking through the character’s eyes (male or female) into the world as they see it. Another gift she has is that of making her locations so vivid. Has she really visited all these places she sets her stories in? It would seem so, yet if she hasn’t, the reader would never suspect that either, so ingenious is her inclusion of details only a person who has actually been there could give.
By now, you have likely guessed that I thoroughly enjoyed A Bird on Every Tree, and you would be right. I enjoyed every story; there wasn’t one that I would have left out. Ms Bruneau writes with a graceful precision and has a deftness with words and their cadences, their implications and meanings so that there are no misunderstandings, only a full comprehension of each story and its message. A Bird On Every Tree will go on the 2017 Longlist for a “Very Best!” Book Award for Short Stories.