Born in Tasmania in 1940, Carmel Bird went on from there to continue her studies in France, Spain, and California. She now lives in Australia, where her work is highly esteemed by critics and the public.
The world of Australian writer Carmel Bird is one in which no hard line is drawn between everyday reality and unvarnished fantasy. Her new novel, The Bluebird Café, is a delectable concoction. In the brew are an Historic Museum Village (a Tasmanian Disneyland under an enormous glass dome), a verdant horizontal forest, the mysterious disappearance of midget child Lovelygod, anorexic teenager and later famous writer Virginia O’Day who pens letters to long-deceased Charles Dickens, a Japanese student’s research paper, recipes for Heavenly Tart and Cherry Ripe Slices, information about aborigines and thylacenes. Ms. Bird describes her books as being in some sense a meditation on extinction––of races of people, species of animals and plants, language meanings, the human spirit. Equally it is a celebration of the hope that continues to burn in human hearts, of delight and wonder that still abound.
Available: April 01 1991
With this collection of twenty-four stories, New Directions introduces to American readers a wonderful new writing voice from Australia. Carmel Bird deftly walks the thin line between the ordinary world and the world of the imagination and the fantastic. As she has remarked: "When I read fiction I want the words to take my spirits into the places beneath the surface of the everyday world. I want the freshness of dreams to again be revealed to me." By turns Carmel Bird’s tales are funny-sad, frightening-gentle, mysterious-matter of fact. Her prose is deceptive; lucid and seemingly artless, yet surprising––a left hook from a white kid glove. "Woodpecker Point," the center-piece of this collection, perhaps best evinces Carmel Bird’s many special qualities in concert, above all her unique feeling for the materiality and color of things and for the mystery of the everyday. The assembled stories have been chosen from her first book, Birth, Death and Marriages (privately printed in Australia in 1983) on through her most recent work which shows in the concluding pieces, "Goczka" and "Every Home Should Have a Cedar Chest," a poetic dimension intimated in her earlier writing and now brought to full bloom.