Friday, June 26, 2009

What I Just Read: The Painted Bird

Thanks to two 4+ hour bus rides and 2 hours to myself in Central Park I finished this book in one day, the actual finishing happened somewhere in Central Connecticut on a dimly lit bus.

The Painted Bird
by Jerzy Kosinski is a story of a young boy, who through his parent-less wanderings through Eastern Europe witnesses and befalls unspeakable (though not to him) attrocities at the hands of the local village populations. Reminded me a lot of Night by Elie Wiesel (in the fact that it was a story about the atrocities of WWII through the eyes of a child).

The stories in the painted bird are meant to be shocking and gut wrenching but to me his words had very little effect on me. The scenes he depicts were just that to me, scenes. I do not disagree that rapings, beatings and torture are horrific and indefensible acts but having not felt any of the effects of such actions. I think that may have been why I was surprised, partially due to Katy's reaction to the book, at how it was not as graphic as I thought it would be.

On the whole I enjoyed the book, in large part to the changes in the main characters thought process through out the book. Much like A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah who reflects on the mental toll that war and soldiering during his childhood had on him the painted bird talks about how adult events such as war, sex and torture are damaging to children.

To put it bluntly the design of this book is terrible in almost every way possible. For starters orange, purple and gray are not colors that work well together, and when you lay them on top of one another they really hurt the eyes.

The bird on the cover looks like someone used MS Paint (ha Painted Bird get it?) to put it on there. As a matter of fact this whole cover looks like it was put together in MS Paint by an Elementary School kid. The fact that it was made some time in the 60's or 70's is no excuse they should have updated it by now.

On the inside the words are smooshed together while leaving an inch for the margins. My question is why not give more spacing for the words or make the book smaller as a whole?

Next up is Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk. Last time I came in contact with something associated with Mr. Palahniuk was Fight Club (the movie not the book), just as the title credits were beginning I was told the whole plot of the movie. Now as a warning, if you know what happens in this book and you somehow bring it to my attention before I finish, I will kill you.


  1. Yet you wear a t-shirt that gives away major plot lines of some of the best movies/books. Hmm.

  2. I would argue that for most of those you would have to have seen the movie to understand what the shirt is saying. Besides I only where it for the Snape Kills Dumbledore line to fuck with the people who don't actually read the books. Serves them right.

    That being said I never said I practice what I preach.