It’s...a story prone to soap-operatic revelations and Big Events; but the events are presented in a way that’s more matter-of-fact than melodramatic, and the effect is absurd, and at times deeply funny. The result is a story that is disquieting and darkly comic and vulnerable and true. I laughed throughout; I winced more. Bertino makes her literary allusions overtly, almost winkingly ... Surrealist chapters...could exist as stand-alone short stories of the sort that Bertino has previously written. Whatever the references, though, Bertino’s prose is wholly her own. And though her protagonist’s world is governed by dream logic, it’s a credit to the author’s craftsmanship that her characters’ struggles feel grounded in reality. Bertino’s writing is lyrical and sharp and she deploys magical realism alongside a fart joke with equal self-assurance.
...dazzling ... In Bertino’s hands, the effect is less panic and more woozy wonder, a simultaneously hilarious and gutting exploration of trauma, loss and displacement ... Parakeet asks how we reconstruct a personal geography after trauma, how we assemble those elusive fragments into a coherent self, situated in a coherent timeline, a coherent set of relationships ... The heartbreak and the humor of Parakeet both derive from this constant, unnerving sense of dislocation. The context feels off-kilter ... Parakeet tests ways of gluing oneself back together after being shattered. Sometimes the methods are laughable, absurd; others fail abjectly. Sometimes, as in the titular play, something works, if only for a moment ... Witty, raw and masterfully chaotic, Bertino’s novel works for more than a moment — it’s revelatory all the way through.
Parakeet by Marie-Helene Bertino is garnering a lot of attention and is deserving of all the accolades and buzz. Surreal and slippery, brimming with emotion, it is hard to characterize and summarize ... This is a tremendous novel. Bertino’s style and vision are fresh and singular. There is plenty of wry humor and blistering insight ... Parakeet is smart and tender, tough and weird, provocative and totally enjoyable.
Fantastic upheaval keeps intruding on the proceedings ... many untold surprises, phantasmagorical segues, and jarring shocks await ... Successful in the way the best Michel Gondry films are, Parakeet is a virtuosic, perplexing, challenging trip. If it’s too disturbing a tale for this particular moment (it shouldn’t be), it may be a great work to explore in a year to come.
The fantastic infiltrates the story in overtly metaphoric ways...But Ms. Bertino establishes a rationale for the madness beyond matrimonial jitters ... Like most trauma fiction, Parakeet becomes narrowly preoccupied by a single, all-defining moment that somehow both reconfigures the past and sets the course for the future ... But unlike most books in the genre, the novel isn’t lugubrious, instead steering into the experience of absurdity with a recklessness that keeps you guessing.
The novel delivers an honest connection to family, through the lens of the theater, that makes for a great read ... a chaotic, strange, sometimes dark exploration into the self ... various moments...exude an offbeat tone ... Luna’s path to realization is both wonderful and dissociative. Bertino weaves the concept of identity through trauma into a raw and emotional prose that delivers.
There are moments when the Bride’s cynicism, sarcasm, and narcissism make her almost unbearable, yet she remains relatable and real. Her negative coping mechanisms provide an ugly authenticity to her character and are somewhat balanced out by her overactive, dark sense of humor ... Bertino manages to tackle several important and relevant issues in Parakeet without preaching to the reader. At the same time, she effectively weaves together complex timelines, dark humor, and sometimes too-strange coincidences into a tale of healing, intimacy, and womanhood.
Bertino skillfully weaves together reality and flights of fancy as she tackles a wide variety of issues women face and the different ways to navigate these issues. An amusing yet instructive work about how personal perspective can change everything; highly recommended.
Brilliant, chaotic, and fantastically untethered from humdrum reality, Bertino’s second novel...playfully, precisely builds a big world in these pages, somehow making the case that there’s too much love, pain, and magic to ever fit in one story, and fitting it in all the same.
... [a] self-assured, strange, and winning book ... many memorable characters. The book’s linguistic pyrotechnics and the shimmering, miragelike nature of Bertino’s images demand a lot of the reader, but the relatability of The Bride’s honest and earnest attempts to do her best with the uncooperative life she has been given resonate on a deep, perhaps even universal, frequency. A vivid book about lives visited by violent strangeness but lived with authentic humor and hope.
Bertino...impresses with this dreamlike, sardonic novel about a woman questioning her impending marriage while processing the trauma of a terrorist attack ... The bride’s conflicted emotions come to a head as the novel builds to a satisfying end. Fans of Rivka Galchen will delight in Bertino’s subtly fantastical tale.