Bird in the Snow
By: Michael Harding
Publication Date: October 2008
Bird in the Snow follows twenty-four hours in the life of Birdie Waters. On the eve of burying her only son, she stays awake all night, examining old photographs, cherishing memories of Gussie and her beloved late husband, Alex – a vet who married her because her dancing ability eclipsed the class difference between them. She recalls Gussie’s tragic death, his failed romance, and Louise, who for a while looked like the partner that might make her son happy. She remembers Hughie Donoghue, a flute player whom she has known since her marriage, and for whom she still feels intense but unspoken affection.
When the funeral is over, and the mourners have all dined in the local hotel, she returns alone to her house, where each day is a kind of triumph, because she has survived a little longer. Bird in the Snow is the story of an old woman whose ordinary life is full of drama, love and passion, though perhaps nobody knows it but herself, because only she remembers everything. This delicately rendered narrative evokes the rural past of Birdie’s life in the Irish midlands, using memory to redress her bereavement through a series of poignant vignettes that crystallize into a powerful act of retrieval.
“Harding’s writing – supple, troubled, utterly modern – commences where the traditional Irish short story dropped from enervation and where Joyce, Beckett and Myles left off.” – Books Ireland
‘A triumph in clean, sparse writing. The sense of place and time as well as the aloneness of age is so well written. A beautiful piece of writing that held me from start to finished.’ – Customer review
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Harding was born in Cavan in 1953 and has received both the Stewart Parker Award and an RTÉ Arts Show/Bank of Ireland Award for his theatre work. The Abbey Theatre has staged Strawboys (1987), Una Pooka(1989), Misogynist (1990), Hubert Murray’s Widow (1993) and Sour Grapes (1997). The Tinker’s Curse was nominated for Best New Play, at the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards 2007. His fiction includes Priest (1986) and The Trouble with Sarah Gullion (1988). He writes a weekly column, ‘Displaced in Mullingar’, for the Irish Times and is a member of Aosdána.