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Black Bird

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  238 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
In this wholly original novel alive with misfortune and magic, Michel Basilières uncovers a Montreal not seen in any other English-Canadian work: a forgotten blue-collar neighbourhood in between the two solitudes. Gothic, outrageous, yet tender and wise, Black Bird is as liberating as the dreams of its wayward characters, and as gripping as the insurgencies that split its ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 9th 2004 by Vintage Canada (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 371)
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Feb 14, 2013 Jelena rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was, and still am, very ambivalent about “Black Bird”, which does not happen very often.

There are many details that I liked a lot: the view of identity in which certain characters have no first names and their own perception of themselves, the shift of perspective through an omnipresent narrator, the dynamic style and rich plot, the macabre ways of the family and other characters as a contrast to a relatively realistic background, the social and political aspects incorporated into the story,
I am wholly am ambivalent to this novel. It was entertaining, quick-paced and had intriguing characters, where at the same time it was a little dull, there was no sense of time passing, and the characters were flat. This may seem contradictory, but I will explain. The novel was fun to read, but I say it is “dull” in that it didn’t leave me with any lasting impression of it other than it helped me pass time on an airplane – it wasn’t funny enough or interesting enough. It moves along at a quick-p ...more
Sep 01, 2010 rabbitprincess rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like Montreal, Canadian history or who are interested in the two solitudes
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: CBC Book Club
* * * * 1/2

This is an enchanting book with plenty of twists, turns and tweaks to the historical record. It concerns the Desouche family, who live in a house at the base of Mount Royal in Montreal. They're an Anglophone/Francophone mixed family and their dynamics are pretty dysfunctional. There are grave robbers, FLQ terrorists, budding poets, worn-down women, devout Catholics and the titular black bird, a crow owned by Grandfather. The characters are named by their relationship to the youngest g
Jim Corcoran
Jun 30, 2013 Jim Corcoran rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this novel. I couldn't put it down. I was a bit afraid because it got some mixed reviews from us common folk, but I read ahead anyway. I'm so very glad I did.

It's entertaining and irreverent. It makes some interesting political points, paints a fabulous picture of a dysfunctional family in a city where "death is at the center of everything," argues about the virtues of action vs. art and vice versa. Yet, I still found it very funny and quirky. Well done.

Working in the theft of
Jul 31, 2012 *Dragonfly* rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Groteskna, opskurna atmosfera s dekadentnim likovima.

Tek dasak magijskog realizma kao opulentni zacin u uzarenom klupku romana.

Pisano kroz kaleidoskop sveznajuceg pisca, bez mnogo dijaloga.

Junaci ove crnohumorne, blistave povesti su cesto posrnuli, rugobni. Ipak, u sredistu topli, bliski.

Kada zarobi olovna usobljenost sredovecnosti, tuge i neizdrza, kuda tada? Samo u okrilje poznatog, u prastajuce narucje porodice.

Kada licni hronoskop zataji, ovaj roman ce otkriti kako progledati, prodisati (naz
Aug 14, 2012 Robyn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I actully found this book painful to read! I still don't even know how you can go from a poticial movement of Quebec to grave robbing to frankenstein corpses in one book and have the underlying story be about a family coming together.
Apr 12, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok
Recommended to Sarah by: Eng-Can master's class
Imaginative, but the author's (politically-charged) voice comes through too often.
Mr. Basilier’s novel, The Black Bird is a very dark comedy about a very, very dysfunctional family having a very, very , very bad year.
Mr. Balilier takes great liberty with the facts of that “defining moment in Canadian History” that this novel plays with. I had to look up the facts about The October Crisis because at the time ( Fall of 1970) I was a first year university student at UofA in Alberta, Canada..and happily (or sadly??) , politics were the farthest thing from my mind! I do remember t
Sep 29, 2011 Anne rated it it was ok
I deliberately read this book due to my appreciation of Canadian literature which, from my experience,is usually dry, quirky and droll at times. This attempts to be but it is no Annie proulx (know she is not canadian) nor close and alistair macleod shouldn't be mentioned in the same room. This is the elephant in the Canadian room. Provides insights into french vs English antagonism thanks to colonialism but I have read so much better post colonialism lit. Even attempts to be "po-mo", quirky and ...more
Miranda Bavdaz
Apr 28, 2016 Miranda Bavdaz rated it it was amazing
Loved it!! So much kookiness and dark humour mixed in with history and wisdom. Michel was my writing prof at UofT and as soon as I met him I knew how this book came alive = he lived through all the crazy Quebec politics and family life that all shaped his fantastic imagination.
Apr 04, 2015 Christy rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
There were too many characters to develop any of them enough and was too abstract of a story for my tastes. The ending was awful, right up there with the old high school short story endings of "and then they woke up." lame.
Apr 21, 2016 Jesse rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who live in or grew up in Montreal.
Shelves: would-read-again
Gothic, darkly funny, and wholly weird, Black Bird manages to capture the atmosphere of Montreal in ways only Mordecai Richler had been previously capable of.
Mar 15, 2011 Jan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Book clubs
Good magic realism - had a good discussion at our book club meeting.
Great quote from the book: As she browsed she noted the other customers' seemingly unconscious slavery. They ran their hands over spines, read front matter and dust jackets, opened volumes and lost themselves in the pages. They rarely spoke to one another and looked only at the books. When they did converse, it was only to recommend the relative merits of particular books, like born-again proselytizers or hosts for parasitical a
Oliver Ho
Nov 25, 2013 Oliver Ho rated it liked it
I liked this novel. It seemed like it would be the sort of novel I would love: dark humour, magic realism, surreal scenes...a ghost who doesn't realize he's a ghost, a mad scientist creating monster like Frankenstein, a mysterious crow, grave-robbers...all set against the backdrop of Montreal in 1970. It was an enjoyable story, with some great passages, but overall it seemed to fall short of its mark--too many characters whose voices were inconsistent, mixed with a breezily omnipotent narrator a ...more
Jun 16, 2012 Sharon rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2012
This was a bookclub book from the Library. I chose it because the reviews said it was innovative and it sounded interesting. And maybe it is, but not for me. I really tried to find one character that I liked, and all of them have distinct personalities, that's for sure, but alas, I was unsuccessful. To say I hated this book would be stretching, but I disliked and didn't understand it. Maybe I missed a pivotal scene, but the longer I read the more confused I got.
Feb 20, 2012 Milja rated it really liked it
Shelves: posessions
If you are a lover of the real goth spook and comedy in one, you will most probably like this book. I say probably because if you like books that have a dominant, strong plot that will drag you in might not like it. This is mainly a psychological book, dealing with personalities of more than interesting, cute characters.
I did enjoy reading it, even though i would easily let go of it on slow parts so it did take me a while to read it.
Monica Strebel
While I remember the October crisis well, it didn't affect my life at all, living in BC. It was interesting to read about this time in Canada's history from the point of a Quebecois. Although this is not a historically correct story, it was enlightening. I was somewhat confused with the "supernatural' story line within the story, and, for me, it didn't add anything to the novel. Glad I read it, if only to get a fresh perspective on this time in history.
Dec 22, 2011 Margarita rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A gifted writer with a unique storytelling ability. This novel is a magical blend of dark humour, political history and the fantastic. Although his characters aren't likeable, Basilieres does an impeccable job of drawing you in - His sense of family (to both love and hate them) is brilliantly captured. At times, an uncomfortable read. As a reader, you find yourself strangely rooting for the Desouches - through all of their flaws.
Jan 21, 2014 Pedja rated it liked it
A dark comedy story with interesting characters. "Montreal, an island..."
Marko Jevtić
Nov 18, 2010 Marko Jevtić rated it really liked it
Remind me on Léolo (1992) Jean-Claude Lauzon movie. The same set, the same dark mood. On covers of the book says black humor. I don't see humor but most definitely black it is. Sometimes a bit naïve, especially when it speaks of the nature of the soul, but anyway I'm interested what will be next for Michel Basilières. Enjoyable. I recommend.
Aug 01, 2012 Mallory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loir
Most of the characters are unsavoury, to say the least. But I like how they reinforce the idea that family is family and you stick together for better or worse. Some of their relationships were bad all around, but most of them showed flickering moments of affection and caring. Oddly enough, I found this to be a feel good book when I finished.
Jun 02, 2010 Jen added it
I'd never heard of this book and I'd never heard of this author, but I'm glad I picked up this dark, funny, brilliantly peculiar story. Set in Montreal, Black Bird centers around an amoral family that includes a grave-robbing grandfather, a terrorist daughter, a poet/playwright son, and a vindictive crow.
May 27, 2008 Deodand rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Non-Canadians
Shelves: fiction, canada
It's a wonderful, simple, quick read that doesn't talk down to us. This book takes liberties with our history, but it's deeply Canadian in a way that's hard to catch. It's a special author that tells a fantastical Canadian story without making us look like fuckwits or backwoods hicks.
Jun 16, 2013 Marija rated it did not like it
"Porodilište, to mesto gde dobro ili loše počinju sve tajnovite avanture, gde čudesna činjenica postojanja počinje u bolu i strahu, uprkos svim očajničkim nastojanjima medicinskog osoblja da suzbije, kontroliše ili ublaži osnovnu i primarnu prirodu našeg rađanja."
Aug 14, 2012 Emma rated it really liked it
funny, unexpected, enjoyable and a pleasurable amount of cussing en francais. Clever and truly fictional. I was intrigued the most by the grandfather who blew my mind in the monologue from page 215-224. Those pages made this book for me, along with a few other moments.
May 23, 2011 Tracey-Lee rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Loved this book. Dark humour, and very interesting characters. Great read. Looking forward to Basilieres next book.
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Currently reading... will write a review when I'm finished.
Mar 17, 2010 Marc rated it it was amazing
Magical, humourous, faintly historical, and a fine novel of a side of Montreal that is not often explored.
Sep 12, 2011 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of morbid, kind of sardonic, creepy at times--familial at others. Quebecois, in a nutshell.
Marina Perović
Dec 28, 2015 Marina Perović rated it really liked it
Dark humour, interesting characters and unexpected twists and turns.
Good one.
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Michel Basilières was born and raised in Montreal’s Milton Park neighbourhood and now lives with his son in Toronto. He is the author of Black Bird, a magic realist novel set during the October Crisis.
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