the painted bird

Well, I have been reading The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski for about a month now.  Why did it take me a month to read such a short novel you may be asking.  Well, because I hated every minute, every second I read it.  The story follows the protagonist, a 7 year old boy, after he is abandoned by his parents during WWII.  This book was first published in 1965, not that it matters to me.  I will tell you a couple of things before I go into much detail.  Nature is a regular theme in this story: squirrels, birds, trees/forest along with violence.  Each chapter is the boy’s experience with different people while just trying to survive.  So, why do I hate this story and why did I finally give up reading it?  Well, because it fucking sucks and because I couldn’t go any further.  There was one cool part of the story, which is where the painted bird is described.  On page 50-51, we find out where the title of this book came from.


‘He would choose the strongest bird, tie it to his wrist and prepare stinking paints of different colors which he mixed together from the most varied components.  When the colors satisfied him, Lekh would turn the bird over and paint its wings, head, and breast in rainbow hues until it became more dappled and vivid than a bouquet of flowers.  Then we would go into the thick of the forest.  There Lekh took out the painted bird and ordered me to hold it in my hand and squeeze it lightly.  The bird would begin to twitter and attract a flock of the same species which would fly nervously over our heads.  Our prisoner, hearing them, strained toward them, warbling more loudly, its little heart, locked in its freshly painted breast, beating violently.  When a sufficient number of birds gathered above our heads, Lekh would give me a sign to release the prisoner.  It would soar, happy and free, a spot of rainbow against the back drop of clouds, and then plunge into the waiting brown flock.  For an instant the birds were confounded.  The painted bird circled from one end of the flock to the other, vainly trying to convince its kin that it was one of them.  But, dazzled by its brilliant colors, they flew around it unconvinced.  The painted bird would be forced farther and farther away as it zealously tried to enter the ranks of the flock.  We saw soon afterwards how one bird after another would peel off in a fierce attack.  Shortly the many-hued shape lost its place in the sky and dropped to the ground.  When we finally found the painted bird it was usually dead. Lekh keenly examined the number of blows which the bird had received.  Blood seeped through its colored wings, diluting the paint and soiling Lekh’s hands.’

Now that is totally fucked up.  Sickness! But a very vivid picture for sure.  Most interesting part of this story, for sure.  I feel that the story just went on and on, with the protagonist going from one place to the next,with similar events happening to him.  Mean and cruel villagers that saw him as cursed or a demon of some sort.  I am thinking he is Jewish, but I could be wrong considering I didn’t read the entire book.

All in all I do not recommend this novel, period!  I had read about it and thought that it would be decent, but boy was I wrong.  So, how do I rate a book that I didn’t finish?  I have no damn clue.  Since this is my fucking blog, I will just do it my way.

2/5 stars, which is even questionable to me.

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