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  • Writer's pictureJoseph R. Goodall

A Third Birthday Tribute


This week What the Bird Sees in Flight turned THREE! I'm proud to celebrate this work of historical fiction, and recognize that it's also become a special part of my history. From seeing my book in several public libraries, to sharing it at book events and festivals, to having many wonderful conversations with readers, it's truly been a joy to see these stories in the world and hear what they've meant to others. To celebrate, I wanted to share a couple reflections on this milestone.


As I wrote (and re-wrote) about the unraveling and return of this fictional New Zealand farming family—as told by each of its members—my first book taught me so much about learning how to see.


The long view of time. Recognizing and accepting yourself and those you know best, even as you continue to evolve. The beauty and brokenness of the places we call home, and figuring out how to build a new one after you've grown up or moved on.


One of my favorite scenes from What the Bird Sees in Flight  highlights this concept. When the elderly Hester family patriarch, Duncan, goes missing during a rain storm, his adult sons must set aside their differences to find him. Joshua leads his brothers on a trek into the New Zealand bush, but he is less concerned about his father's safety than the old man causing them harm with a shotgun and a brain addled with dementia. As apparitions and painful flashbacks from his past pursue Joshua through the shadowy landscape, his desperation leads him into a hidden cave in the side of a hill. Instead of finding his father, he discovers his own haunting reflection in a pail of water. I received a lot of positive feedback about the Southern Gothic vibes of this story, and for me it crystalizes this often-traveled hero's journey in literature: that we must face and accept ourselves before we can find resolution for the other conflicts raging around us.



 


I’m also happy to give credit to other literature that informed and inspired my writing. From their vivid rural settings, compelling family sagas and immersive historical fiction, to their intricate depictions of racial identity and intergenerational tension, I am truly grateful for the work of these authors. Literature is an ongoing conversation, and I’m proud if I can contribute a small light amidst these luminaries.


  • Witi Ihimaera’s Whale Rider, and its film adaptation by Niki Caro, tells the story of a young girl in a Māori community (the Indigenous people of Aotearoa/ New Zealand) who challenges her grandfather’s patriarchal stance.


  • Ron Rash’s short stories, set in the Appalachian region, are populated with colorful, stubborn characters, natural, vibrant beauty and the pain of addiction and poverty.


  • Barry Crump’s witty, cheeky adventure stories, such as Wild Pork and Watercress, explore the wild, natural beauty of New Zealand.


  • Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen is a novella depicting the blind spots of religious fervor in a Danish village, and an unexpected, extravagant meal prepared by a French cook.


  • Mildred D Taylor’s Logan family series, which stretches from the American Civil War, through the Great Depression and into the Civil Rights Era, portrays one of the few Black families to own land in their rural Mississippi community.


  • John Steinbeck’s East of Eden is awash with sibling rivalries, biting dialogue, and poignant descriptions of place and the passage of time.


  • Toni Morrison’s novel Home follows a Korean War vet returning stateside to find a struggling sister, traumatic flashbacks and ongoing experiences of racism in the country he fought to defend.


  • Janet Frame’s The Carpathians combines magical realism, New Zealand landscapes, and domestic ennui, and is cryptic in the most compelling way.


 

In summary, thank you for your support of my writing. I wouldn't have stories to share if there weren't people to read them. If you enjoyed my first book, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads to help others find it. And stay tuned for another short story collection in the near future!


Curiosity is the pathway to storytelling, which in turn can help us learn to accept ourselves and others. It’s a lesson I keep coming back to, both as a writer and as a human.

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