May 19, 2010

VELOCITY rocks! I’ve never read anything that moved this fast. But what’s with the birds? There are birds all through the book. Why all the birds?––Andrea, Wisconsin

Birds inspire more pleasant images than do fat slimy slugs. I could have threaded through the book metaphors and similes filled with fat slimy slugs, but it might have gotten to be off-putting except to those readers with an abiding affection for slimy slugs. Actually, Andrea, this is the kind of detail that a writer is wise not to talk about too much. You do not need to know why all the birds are there in order to enjoy the story. The birds are there in part to create a mood, so for that purpose they in part affect the reader on a conscious level. But they are there for several other reasons, all of which are meant to affect the reader in a particular way on a subconscious level. Let’s just say that one of those reasons is related to the fact that birds represent the ultimate freedom of movement, the freedom of flight, and Billy Wiles, the lead of the novel, is a man living in a cage of his own construction when the novel opens––and has freed himself by the end. Now I retreat into mystery. Do not ask the magician to show you where the missing quarter really went; you won’t enjoy the sleight of hand as much when you know the mechanics of it.

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