Laura Harrington's new novel is a portrait of a family in the midst of recovery, the mysterious disappearance of a young woman, and of a brother and sister whose love of the natural world just might save their lives.
Set in 1970, a watershed moment in American History, A Catalog of Birds tells the story of the Flynn family and the devastating impact of the Vietnam War. At the heart of the novel is the relationship between siblings Nell and Billy Flynn. Nell excels academically and is headed to college and a career in science. Billy, a passionate artist, enlists as a pilot to fulfill his lifelong dream of flying. He is the only survivor when his helicopter is shot down. When he returns home his wounds limit his ability to sketch or even hold a pencil. As Billy struggles to regain the life he once had, Nell and their family will have to do all that's possible to save him.
Lyrical and affecting, Laura Harrington has written an artful family drama about innocence lost and wounds that may never be healed. This is a tale of forgiveness: of ourselves, of those we love best. Illuminated by grief and desire, the novel is full of spirit, wonder and the possibilities of the future.
“Harrington’s prose is fierce and tender both, and the story so powerful. Taut and true, A Catalog of Birds is a beautiful book about family, loss, and love. Its memorable characters will haunt you long after you put it down.”
—Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs
“Laura Harrington’s lyrical and unforgettable A Catalog of Birds explores what makes a life worth living. Harrington paints both human frailties and the Vietnam conflict with empathetic clarity she does best, and the parallels between our recent wars in the Middle-East are both nuanced and startlingly wise.”
—Siobhan Fallon, The Confusion of Languages
“A Catalog of Birds is a heartbreaking journey into the soul of America.”
—Randy Susan Meyers, The Widow of Wall Street
“Laura Harrington has written a rich, dense, beautifully crafted novel.”
—Ann Napolitano, A Good Hard Look
“There is a fierceness to this book. A Catalog of Birds is an absolute marvel of a novel.”
—Robin Black, Life Drawing
Laura Harrington has written dozens of plays, musicals, and operas, which have been produced in venues ranging from Off-Broadway to the Houston Grand Opera. Harrington has twice won both the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award in playwriting and the Clauder Competition for best new play in New England. Laura teaches playwriting at MIT where she was awarded the 2009 Levitan Prize. Alice Bliss, her first novel, won the 2012 Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction.