Books for Big Brains: Claire Aman’s Bird Country

Every so often we’re sent new books that are written by women. We’ve decided to take advantage of this by publishing short, succinct reviews that give you the lowdown on the quality content found within each book’s pages. These reviews form part of an ongoing series: Books for Big Brains.

How could it get any better, you ask? Well, we want to give YOU the books for FREE. If you’d like to be among the first to get your hands on the latest publications, all you have to do is provide us with your opinion on the book you’re sent in the form of a 200-300 word review. Sound like a sweet deal? Get in touch with us!

Jess Alchin reviews

Bird Country

by Claire Aman

☆☆☆☆☆

Bird Country is a quiet read with a sharp, delicate edge. Each story creeps into the reader’s mind to paint a bright puzzle-piece of a life which is melancholy, beautiful, and profoundly Australian.

Each chapter in this collection of short stories creates a snapshot of rural Australian life in intimate detail.

The stories are frustratingly real, capturing the best and worst of small towns and the vibrant characters who reside in them with an undercurrent of nostalgia, secrets and, at times, claustrophobia.

Like Claire Aman, I didn’t grow up in a big city. Reading Bird Country was a swift kick back to the dusty streets and slow-moving comings and goings of the town I grew up in, now with all the glorious detail of Aman’s deliberate prose.

Bird Country is a series of snippets of things left unsaid, of thoughts tied to memories and memories lashed to a larger picture.  A mother, a father and a son sail the familiar route upriver, but this time they bring a grandfather’s ashes. An aging cousin reminisces on her miscreant youth at a backyard wedding. An estranged husband ponders the way it all went, tugging at the nature of people and the nature of glass.

Aman’s introspective characters serve up slices of lukewarm Australian town life with candour and charm.

Generous detail has the reader tracing each character’s footsteps with a bright nostalgia even for the places they’ve never been.

When Aman writes about little girls with sticky hands sliding their fingers through a friendly Border Collie’s fur, you feel it too.

Would you have bought this book for yourself?

Yes; sometimes instead of reading the blurb of a book I’ll read the first page, and If I’d read the first page of Bird Country in a book store I wouldn’t have been able to put it down again.

What kind of person would you buy this book as a gift for?

I’m thinking of a few, completely unalike people who might be getting this book for Christmas. Bird Country offers a rich snapshot of the unsaid, disregarding demographics. I think anyone who enjoys unravelling stories would find something to love here.

What sort of book would you give a 1 star rating?

A book would need to be desperately lacking in voice, interesting characters, plot, and flow for me to give it a one star rating.

What sort of book would you give a 5 star rating?

To paraphrase a famous quote, the 5 star books are the ones that take you out of your own body then stuff you back in, not quite fitting the same.

How many stars would you give this book?

Bird Country gets a 5 from me—I’ve got the goose bumps to prove it.

Grab your own copy of Bird Country here!


Review and Images by Jess Alchin

Edits by Emma Kate Lewis

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