Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite
No Birds Sing Here by Daniel V. Meier Jr. is the story of a road trip taken by Beckman and a lady he meets by the name of Malany. Both are running from a life they no longer want to lead, and both are frustrated artists. Malany has paid a vanity press to publish her poetry book while her traveling companion is intending to begin writing his first novel, as soon as he receives the inspiration and possibly the experience. Anything has to be better than working in a restaurant with a very strange co-worker and a clutter of yowling cats beneath his window. The journey begins with the premise that if you appear successful, others will believe you are. But plans go awry as the pair meets a cast of unsavory characters who have no affinity for culture, preferring to whore, drink and take drugs. While some passers-by are left behind, others take their place. Beckman is forced to flee on more than one occasion.
My overall impression of No Birds Sing Here by Daniel V. Meier Jr. is a cross between ‘Thelma and Louise’ and Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’. No one is quite who they appear, all the characters wear masks, hide their history, and play make-believe with abandon. They also have several brushes with the law, and at times it leaves you wondering if the consequences of their antics will catch up with them. This book falls firmly in the literary category with characters that come to life but behave outside the boundaries followed by the majority of society. There are some real gems here and there, my favorite was ‘… the angry glances of Hispanic maids pushing baby strollers which held the inheritors of vast fortunes.’ I liked the excellent descriptions of small-town America and the story unfolds at a satisfying pace. It’s impossible not to keep reading to find out what will happen to them all in the end. A very different book from Meier’s first novel and an unexpected scenario that lovers of books that dive beneath the perceived surface of society will enjoy.
Review by Kate Robinson
"People don’t want poetry or literature. They want celebrities, half-crazy celebrities."
Mix a dram of Hunter Thompson, a dash of Kerouac, a pinch of Tom Wolfe, a sprinkle of Palahniuk, a dab of Salinger, and a heaping spoonful of Scott Fitzgerald. Shake liberally, and what emerges is an urban literary concoction that rises to the level of the best road trip stories ever told. At turns ribald and violent, at others tender and thoughtful, this tale starts mildly enough when Beckman, a disenchanted dishwasher with literary aspirations, flees his dead-end job and his writer's block to hit the road with Malany, a remarkable poet he encounters at a used book store. He concocts his theatrical plan after they jump out of his dive apartment window and head through the Southeast in her rickety Oldsmobile.
Malany is not impressed with Beckman's dishonest PR games. But in the interest of selling her stash of vanity-published poetry volumes, she goes along for the ride anyway, funding the trip with her mysterious, cash-filled envelopes. As the mismatched pair travel deeper into Southern literary territory, they cross paths with an assorted cast of clichéd and yet not so clichéd characters, from a tattooed redneck biker to a wealthy sexual predator with pretentious literary fantasies.
Meier's storytelling hits the ground running with every aspect of literary skill inherent from the first page onward: memorable prose, vivid characterizations, and scenes that move incessantly forward with much rumination about the meaning of life and letters, whether from the viewpoint of gritty pool halls and rancid jail cells or between perfumed sheets in the rarified world of academia. Readers in the mood for a loveless, sexy road trip tale should enjoy this one.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review.