In Firebird, Mark Doty tells the story of a ten-year-old in a top hat, cane, and red chiffon scarf, interrupted while belting out Judy Garland's "Get Happy" by his alarmed mother at the bedroom door, exclaiming, "Son, you're a boy!"
Firebird presents us with a heroic little boy who has quite enough worries without discovering that his dawning sexuality is the Wrong One. A self-confessed "chubby smart bookish sissy with glasses and a Southern accent," Doty grew up on the move, the family following his father's engineering work across America-from Tennessee to Arizona, Florida to California. A lyrical, heartbreaking comedy of one family's dissolution through the corrosive powers of alcohol, sorrow, and thwarted desire, Firebird is also a wry evocation of childhood's pleasures and terrors, a comic tour of American suburban life, and a testament to the transformative power of art.
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Doty is most sympathetic this world’s eccentrics, misfits, and social rebels, from his mother’s meditating art teacher to the nameless gnome of Moon Valley, a Tucson hermit whose fantastic desert playground remains hidden among the city’s suburban sprawl, and finally to Doty’s sister Sally, who, ...| Read Full Review of Firebird: A Memoir
Doty's personal material is sometimes wrenching--at the story's climax, his mother, drunk, holds him at gunpoint--but he is at his best when describing his relationship to the idea of beauty and how it influenced his growth as an artist.| Read Full Review of Firebird: A Memoir
Ultimately, Doty's book becomes not so much a picture of a gifted poet learning his way in the world but a series of sometimes interesting, sometimes random sentimental offerings that offer too little insight on the meat of his life -- the poems.Oct 29 1999 | Read Full Review of Firebird: A Memoir
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