I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
At the age of 14 and 11, brothers, Lucas and Grinder’s mother has left them and their alcoholic father. They never hear from her again.
Out of the blue a friend of their mother, Janice, contacts Lucas with the news that their mother has died. She asks them to come to Pittsburgh to take care of her effects, chief among them being Paul. Reluctantly, Lucas and Grinder head for Pittsburgh where they meet Janice and learn that Paul is their mother’s African grey parrot. Turns out that Paul has things to say that turn the brothers’ worlds upside down, especially regarding their mother.
This is a humorous look at matters of consequence—abandonment, alcoholism, grief and loss of a mother, living without clear answers, the relationship between brothers, separation and reconciliation and hope. It is also about a father who carries a piece of Jesus with him in a Ziploc baggie, a parrot who likes to get stoned, and a brother who cleans dead animals off the streets for a living.
David B. Seaburn captures the true essence of what children go through when one parent walks out on them leaving them with the parent that cares more about the beer bottle. The love that Lucas and Grinder have for one another is palpable throughout each page; most vividly as I got to the end of the story. I was in love with the two of these characters.
While I did not care for Martha at all, she had her place within the fabric of the story being told. I was happier once I realized that importance, because she was growing old on me. Even Pop won my heart.
Using Paul, their Mother’s African Grey Parrot as a bridge of love between Mother and son was such a genius idea. It was not only riveting; it was endearing. I only wanted that bird to be safe by the time I finished this book. I bet you will wish the same!
This was a super fast read, great for a one-nighter!
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Parrot Talk by David B. Seaburn
Introduction to excerpt: Grinder discovers Paul, the parrot, lying on his back in the bathtub. Turns out Paul pilfered a bag of marijuana from a suitcase in their motel room and then proceeded to eat some of it. This leads to an emergency visit to the vet’s where Grinder immediately become enamored with their veterinarian, Grace.
“Paul?” Grinder knelt down beside the tub, but Paul didn’t seem to notice he was there. In fact, Paul didn’t move. He didn’t blink. But when a drip fell from the faucet, he made what could only be called a laughing sound. “Hee eee eee eee aww.” Then he fell silent again, watching and waiting.
“Paul? Buddy?” Grinder reached for Paul but another drip was about to fall. Paul opened his mouth in delight and squealed.
“Wow.” Paul’s lids were at half-mast. The corners of his mouth were drawn up in a goofy grin. Another drip. Paul’s stomach shuddered with a deep guffaw. He blinked slowly.
Grinder reached for Paul and patted his belly. “Hey.”
Paul startled when he recognized Grinder. “Hey, man.” He stood up and then slipped and fell on his side. He laughed. “Do that thing again,” he said to the faucet.
“Paul, are you okay?” But Paul was pecking affectionately at his reflection in the chrome fixture. “Paul?” He put his hand on Paul’s back, steadying him because he was about to fall again.
“Paul hungry, Paul hungry. Dorito time, Millie. Dorito time. Millie, Millie.” Paul waddled to the back slope of the bathtub, dropped down on the porcelain and slid on his belly toward the faucet. “Oooooooooooo-eeeee!”
“What the hell.”
Paul rolled over and looked at Grinder through blood shot eyes. “Dorito time, Millie; Dorito time.”
Grinder scurried to the mini-bar and retrieved a bag of Doritos. He tore them open and held one out to Paul who grabbed the bag instead and ripped it apart. He munched furiously while watching for another drip.
When Grinder slipped out of the room to get a bag of nuts, he noticed his duffel bag, which lay open on the floor. Beside it was a Ziploc baggie, a hole gnawed through it and marijuana buds scattered on the carpet. “Shit.” He picked up the remaining pot and flushed it down the toilet while Paul stood in the bathtub, mesmerized by his shiny new chrome friend.
Grinder leafed through the phone book and found a number for the Greater Pittsburgh Animal Urgent Care Center.
“Hello…yes, it’s an emergency…uh huh, my bird…a parrot…okay, yeah, well, I think he’s ODed on some weed…yes, marijuana…no, I didn’t give it to him…no, he doesn’t smoke…ate it, uh huh…okay, okay.”
Grinder went back into the bathroom where Paul had just discovered the shower head.
“Look!” he said.
“C’mon, buddy.” Grinder took a face towel and wrapped it around Paul and cradled him in his arms, Doritos falling from Paul’s mouth.
“More crunchy, more crunchy.”
Grinder opened the mini-bar again and grabbed another bag. He reached for the car keys on the counter and tiptoed past Lucas and Martha’s room.
“Weeeeeeeeeee,” said Paul.
When they arrived at the Urgent Care Center, they were immediately ushered into an exam room where they waited for another fifteen minutes. Paul’s mood had changed. He was singin’ the blues.
“Nobody knows the trouble…”
Grinder tried to perch him on the back of a chair, hoping it would help Paul regain his balance. Wobbly at first, soon Paul was able to stand steady with barely a wing shuffle. Minutes later, he was ambulating without any visible sign of difficulty. His mood, though, hadn’t improved.
“I know, buddy.” Grinder pulled him a little closer. Paul noticed the bag of Doritos and dove in.
When the exam room door opened, Grinder watched as a tall, waifish, middle-agey woman entered the room, her stringy brown bangs covering her ample forehead unevenly. She pushed her horn rimmed glasses up her beak-like nose and clutched a medical chart to her chest. She wore a beige shell, an indifferent knee-length dress and New Balance sneakers. Her hair was pulled back on both sides with yellow barrettes. And her eyes were large a saucers and brown as Hershey’s kisses. She smiled, her teeth as bright as piano keys, her face as welcoming as a summer sunrise. Grinder’s mouth fell open at the sight of her.
“Hello, I’m Dr. Napolitano, one of the vets. You can call me Grace.”
Grinder held his breath. His brain went all monosyllabic on him. “Uh. Wha. Ha.” She extended her hand and it hung out there for an inordinately long time. Grinder knew what it was but didn’t appear to know what to do with it. Instead he grinned a big toothy grin and then snorted when he finally took a breath. He reached for her hand just as she withdrew it. But she kindly reached out again and he took hold of her thumb. To his credit he let go almost immediately.
“Oh. I’m sorry.” Grinder was still grinning.
She laughed, a sweet, lilting laugh. “Let’s try that again.”
This time Grinder was on his game. He took her hand gently in his and shook it an appropriate number of times before letting go. Success. He slumped into his chair again, then quickly straightened his back. He combed his hair with his fingers and cleared his throat. Her hand had been soft, her palm silky and warm to the touch. She reached for Paul, scratched his head and caressed his back slowly. “Hello there, you must be Paul,” she said in a near whisper. “You’ve been through a lot.” She caught Grinder’s eye and smiled knowingly. “Both of you have, I guess.”
About David B. Seaburn
David B. Seaburn has been a Presbyterian pastor of a small country church, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at a leading university medical center, a pioneer in the field of Medical Family Therapy, and a prolific author.
Since 2005, Seaburn has published six novels. His newest, ‘Parrot Talk’, was released in May 2017 by Black Rose Writing. He also writes a blog for Psychology Today magazine, “Going Out Not Knowing.” Seaburn was a Finalist for the National Indie Excellence Awards in fiction for his novel, ‘Charlie No Face’ (2011). He is currently an instructor at Writers and Books in Rochester NY. Seaburn is married with two married daughters and two wonderful granddaughters. A third grandchild is on the way.