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Looking After Pigeon Paperback – July 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Permanent Press (July 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579621872
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579621872
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,044,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The narrator of this novel, seemingly set in the early 1970s, is five-year-old Pigeon. She observes her family s changes during the summer after her parents separation and during which her 16-year-old sister becomes pregnant. Pigeon is bright and remarkably self-sufficient, and as she describes her mother s child-rearing methods, her self-reliance is credible enough to make the story compelling. Her mother takes her; her sister, Dove; and their 10-year-old brother, Robin, to the Jersey Shore, where they move in with the children s uncle. The mother goes to work in a movie house, Dove takes a job at a diner, Robin discovers a deep commitment to fortune-telling, and Pigeon is often left to her own devices from morning until evening. She longs for her father, can t interpret her uncle s relationships with other men, yearns for company during the day, and offers her sister support while longing for some in return. Robin seems to be more alert to Pigeon s needs than anyone else except for their uncle, who is caring but ineffectual as a substitute parent. Pigeon and Robin struggle to understand the changes in their mother when she takes up with a new man and develops a near obsession with a tent revivalist. Markson sews a neat tapestry of family flaws as observed by the not-yet-judgmental Pigeon, making this a sound and interesting choice. --School Library Journal

Looking After Pigeon transports the reader to the Jersey shore in the mid-seventies, with the precocious five-year old Pigeon as narrator and tour guide.
After their father walks out, their mother, Joan, moves Pigeon and her older siblings Robin and Dove to their uncle Edward s house in an un-named New Jersey beach town.
I have heard that in the sixties, they spoke of free love and equally free living. But little of it seemed to have rubbed off on our mother. Order reigns supreme in the house. Their mother is a stickler for rules, and frequently preaches the evils of materialism. Joan gets a job at the local movie theater, determined to stay busy. Later, to the children s surprise, she brings home a man named Cary who becomes a fixture in the house that summer.
Ten-year-old Robin becomes enchanted with a fortune-teller named Edith. He soon starts to believe that he has the gift, that he can predict the future and sets up shop alongside her, Edith marketing him as the boy wonder. Not everyone shares his enthusiasm, as other family members worry that the woman is only using Robin as a novelty to increase her profit. Robin doesn t care and spends most days at Edith s run-down shack.
Sixteen-year old Dove waitresses at Joe Winter s diner. Like the bird she is named after, Dove is beautiful and delicate. She shakes up the family dynamic when she announces she s pregnant with her boyfriend Stan s baby. The news throws the family into a tailspin, as everyone tells Dove how to handle the situation. Complicating matters is the unusually close, flirtatious relationship Dove and her boss have, a relationship that might make people wonder who the father of her baby is.
Although the story takes place only thirty-some years ago, these characters occupy a completely different world. Pigeon is frequently left alone when her family goes to work, something that s unheard of these days. She has a well-cultivated sense of independence. Although she is the youngest, Pigeon acts as a confidante to her brother and sister, who tell her about the escapades with the fortune teller and the pregnancy before any one else. For her part, Pigeon keeps these secrets with a solemnity that belies her age.
Pigeon still has moments that show her true naiveté. Towards the end of the book, she accompanies her uncle Edward into New York for a business day trip. Pigeon sneaks off and tries to find her father, who had recently sent her a postcard from Manhattan. I did not realize the impossibility of my task to find an apartment in New York City with no address, to find among all of the people, only my father .
Reading this novel feels as if you are looking in on a real family instead of a fictional one. Marson s novel expertly captures the rhythms of everyday life. Her writing flows very easily making the story move along at an effortless clip.
Looking After Pigeon is a unique coming-of-age-story. Even though the reader sees everything filtered through Pigeon s eyes, it is just as much about Dove s and Robin s summer of growing older and wiser. I felt a strong attachment to all the characters and flipped the pages eagerly wanting to discover their fates. This engrossing novel has much to recommend it. ---MostlyFiction.com

About the Author

Maud Carol Markson has taught writing at University of New Hampshire and Cabrini College. She now lives in California with her husband, son, and her dog Molly, who is her constant writing companion. Looking after Pigeon is her second novel.

More About the Author

Maud Carol Markson has taught writing at University of New Hampshire and Cabrini College. She now lives in California with her husband, son, and her adopted greyhound Liberty who appreciates literature and a soft bed. Markson is the author of two novels, Looking After Pigeon and When We Get Home.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Descriptions are rich and nuanced and characters well developed.
Linda Y. Hartong
At just under 200 pages, this wonderful book takes only a short time to read, but the characters will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
Lorraine DeSimone
The characters are well developed, believable, and you feel a kinship for them all.
Cindy A. Campbell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By An Avid Reader on July 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. It's a beautifully written story that both breaks your heart and repairs it all in 190 pages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Louise M. Young on July 10, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Maud Carol Markson's slim novel begins with her adult narrator discussing the inconsistancy of memory. She relates how some events she remembers with an almost photograph precision, while entire years of her life, including important events, are totally forgotten. The narrator then explains that the summer when she was five years old has always haunted her memory, and (at the suggestion of a lover) she has decided to exorcise these ghosts by writing her memories down.

The rest of the book is then narrated by 5 year old Pigeon, or, more precisely, by the adult Pigeon's memories of her fifth summer. We meet a lonely child, resiliant and insightful, who observes with a keen but always gracious eye the activities of her family: a mother who is controling and weak-willed, a father trapped, a sister longing for escape. Pigeon -- the young child and the adult -- is clear eyed and unsentimental in her descriptions but never mean-spirited despite her unhappiness.

This book snuck up on me. When I began reading it, I thought it would be a rather run-of-the-mill memoir-type novel about family and growing up. But the delicacy of the scenes and the disonance of the narrator's voice (is it a five year old or an adult who is telling us these things?) quickly drew me in and I found myself completely emmeshed in Pigeon's world. Even now, several days after I finished reading, I still find myself remembering scenes and characters in this lovely book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Parent Coach on November 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a heart-warming story about a single-parent family who faces life's many challenges in a very realistic way and thrives. Pigeon, the narrator, is a loveable little girl, gifted and wise beyond her years. This little books packs a wallop and the characters stay with you long after the story ends. A great read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lorraine DeSimone on July 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
A captivating and beautifully-crafted work of fiction, this novel belongs at the top of the summer reading list. The story is seen through the eyes of 5-year-old Pigeon and focuses on her dysfunctional family, comprised of two precocious older siblings, a detached mother and a father who goes missing in action. Add to that the crew of quirky characters they meet up with when they take shelter one summer at the Jersey shore near Atlantic City, a place where seediness and casino glitz come together. It's the perfect setting for a summer that turns out to be transformative for Pigeon, as she learns about fending for herself while struggling to gain love and support from her family.

Maud Carol Markson is a masterful writer, skillfully balancing heartbreak and humor as she delves into the drama of everyday life. Her characters will completely suck you in. At just under 200 pages, this wonderful book takes only a short time to read, but the characters will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Chessman on June 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a gorgeous novel about a wonderful 5-year-old character named Pigeon, whose family is thrown into turmoil one summer when her father disappears. The voice is Pigeon's, when she's older, yet it evokes so poignantly and humorously a young child's point of view about the world -- and the family -- she is in.

This is a book that holds me from start to finish through the sheer power and delight of the way in which the story is told. I love how deftly and compellingly the story unfolds; I love the insight and understanding of the whole.

I encourage you to read this novel, if you love superb literary fiction with a genuine and engaging voice. This is the real thing.
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I had the chance to read this book while on vacation and it couldn't have suited an an early summer vacation perfectly! This is the type of book that you can read while you lay back and relax yet it still keeps you interested all the way through.

The book is based around a family and not for a second did it seem fake. The characters in the book weren't under or over developed and you truly get the feeling that they are part of a normal family with there struggles.

I am often nervous when starting a book that is written in the view of a child but this one really nailed it!

Looking After Pigeon also touches on some sensitive topics that are still an sensitive today in such an appropriate and non-aggressive that I feel that the author truly stepped out of any opinions she may have on the subject and stayed true to the character which is often difficult to capture.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a light hearted read that pulls you right in!
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Format: Paperback
Having never previously read anything by the author and having no knowledge of the book, I was VERY pleasantly surprised. This was a selection for your book club and we all fully enjoyed and embraced the story. The characters and their development thoughout the novel gave us LOTS to chat about. I am looking forward to hearing more from Maud Carol Markson!
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Format: Paperback
Pigeon, Ms. Markson's narrator in Looking After Pigeon, is a lovely addition to literature of retrospect, with an older narrator looking back on the events of a pivotal summer. Pigeon is five, the youngest of the family, when her father disappears--a wise child who can recall events she can only understand later, who looks back on that time from a perspective that allows not only that understanding, but also a gentle humor. This short, intricate novel about an unbroken child in a broken family is beautifully written, and moving.
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