Monday, August 25, 2014

Wizard of the Pigeons --by Megan Lindholm

Fiction / urban fantasy
304 pages
5 Stars

I finished reading about the Wizard last night – for the 4th or 5th time. I first read Wizard of the Pigeons 30 years or so ago, and loved it. I learned from it, and that, in my opinion is always goodness. I laughed in places and I wept in places, and in a place or two I became angry. It happens every time I read the book. And every time I read the book, I learn more, see more, feel more.

The story is about a Vietnam vet who has a hard time adjusting to life back in the world. Nothing new in that premise, but Megan Lindholm has a different take on this story that is new and different. We watch our Wizard as he makes mistakes, as he learns how to live on the street, as he tries to deal with the System, as he fails, as he grows, as he faces his fears before they climb over his back to kill him.

This is not a "high fantasy" with swords and sorcery, there are no dragons about to storm Seattle or anywhere else (well, unless you consider pigeons in the dragon class), this is a well-written and well-crafted story of what it takes to survive on the streets. I guarantee if you read this book, no matter what you think of it, you will never view a street person the same way you have in the past. You will always be looking for Rasputin, for Cassie, for Wizard.

This is a story of a simple Wizard who feeds his pigeons from a bottomless bag of popcorn until the unthinkable happens and the bag, and his magic, is lost. This is a story of a man who lives by instinct, who is frightened, lonely, and does not understand why the system has turned its back on him, why his family did likewise. He does not understand what war did to him, he only knows it changed him, and not for the better.

This story has the voice of Truth about it. Ms. Lindholm did her research, and did it well. Although the story is about a 'Nam vet, it could just as easily be about an Iraq or Afghan vet. Change the name of the war to whatever you want but the story remains the same. The tragedy remains the same. The Magic never leaves. And surprisingly, this book is not a tragedy; it is a book of hope and the joy that comes from facing your fears, your enemy, and acceptance of life. We need more Wizards. After all, someone needs to feed and care for the pigeons.

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