Book Review: Readings

Greg Garrett

Readings

Free Bird

by Greg Garrett

Kensington, 242 pp., $23

The biggest surprise of many in Baylor creative writing professor and Faulkner Prize-winner Greg Garrett's debut novel is the author's sense of humor. Not only because the story of Clay Forester is an essentially tragic one, and one sadly humming with a search for refuge -- tragedy, of course, is often conquered by comedy -- but because of how well it's wielded. Perfectly placed and with a 90% success rate, Garrett's campfire timing is refreshing in what eventually becomes a semi-autobiographical road-trip novel, albeit one with much promise and plenty of spirit. Stocked with a Southern by way of Southwestern cast of characters, Free Bird doesn't hide its convention and occasional sentimentality: It capitalizes on it. When Forester's family is killed, he moves home to his mother, only to soon learn that the father has died, as well. He leaves South Carolina for New Mexico, and finds that he has some serious confronting to do. Garrett is a musician, and his other craft comes in handy here, adding depth to an already deep, soulful tale. Reading Free Bird is like listening to "The Weight": moving, heart-rending, surprising, delightful, and, above all, memorable.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Book Reviews
<i>Presidio</i> by Randy Kennedy
Presidio by Randy Kennedy
For his debut novel, Kennedy creates a road story that portrays the harsh West Texas terrain beautifully and fills it with sympathetic characters.

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 14, 2018

Hunting the Golden State Killer in <i>I'll Be Gone in the Dark</i>
Hunting the Golden State Killer in I'll Be Gone in the Dark
How Michelle McNamara tracked a killer before her untimely death

Jonelle Seitz, July 20, 2018

More by Shawn Badgley
Somebody Up There Likes Bob Byington
Somebody Up There Likes Bob Byington
The writer-director talks about his fifth feature

April 5, 2013

Take Two Aspirin and Ping Me in the Morning
Take Two Aspirin and Ping Me in the Morning
Health care: an oral future

March 8, 2013

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Greg Garrett, Free Bird, Kensington, Texas Book Festival 2002

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle