Monday, June 14, 2021

Aviary by Deidre McNamer


Things aren't going well at the Pleasant Run facility.  A building of lower rent apartments for seniors, it is showing signs of age and maintenance suddenly seems to be neglected.  The elevator has been out for several weeks which is a major issue for many of the seniors who are still mobile but not up to tackling several flights of stairs multiple times a day.  Instead they are basically trapped in their apartments.  Trash collection has been lagging since the new manager, Herbie, has appeared.  Herbie is a skulker, always around trying to find violations of policies but impossible to locate when something goes wrong that he is responsible for fixing.  Worst of all, there are rumors that the building is about to be sold so that high end condominiums can be built and sold.

The residents are a mixed bunch.  Rydell is a former professor who is hoping to land one more job at his former college.  Viola has tons of stories about an exciting past that most of her friends discount.  Cassie is Viola's friend but caught in a sea of depression.  Her husband and only child have both died and she wonders what is worth continuing on for.  Leo is a quiet man who spends his time painting landscapes.  Clayton is a teenager who seems to be hanging around for no discernible reason.  

Then there is a fire which starts in manager Herbie's apartment.  After it is put out, it becomes apparent that both Herbie and Viola have disappeared.  Lander Maki is the fire investigator who must decide if this was a fire caused by carelessness or if it was arson.  Is the fire related to the disappearances?

Deidre McNamer is a university creative writing professor.  She has written several other highly regarded novels such as My Russian which was a New York Times Notable Book.  In this novel, she outlines the issues that those of us lucky enough to become elderly will face.  Often lonely and neglected, it is unclear how best to alleviate the issues that beset this age group but it is clear that warehousing is not the answer.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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