David Kendall is a Writer and Reading Consultant who works closely with Give a Book and Prison Reading Groups, particularly on our Making it Up project. David is also the Co-Director of Penned Up, a literature festival created by and for prisoners and prisons. David has chosen Featherhood by Charlie Gilmour as June’s Book of the Month.
Memoirs are not my usual choice, and I resisted this – did I want to read about magpies, eccentric families, and estranged fathers? And then, almost by accident, I read the opening pages and I was in love. Charlie’s eye is as sharp as his adopted magpie, Benzene’s, who swoops for bottle caps and credit cards. The mess and chaos Benzene creates is all there for us to see. His estranged father is the poet Heathcote Williams who inhabits a room in Port Eliot like a character from Gormenghast. His adopted father is David Gilmour. The reader bounces between Charlie’s relationship with father figures, his worries about how he will be as a father, and his relationship to the beautiful alien Benzene. Would you keep scraps of meat in your hair for a magpie to nibble at?
Reading Featherhood reminded me that what I want most from fiction, or non-fiction, is truth. That cutting through layers until the focus of the writing is caught and displayed. This is why I read, and why everyone should read Featherhood. A glorious, messy, and nonsensical world revealed with an eye for clarity and shiny things.
Thank you, David for choosing this title.
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To see our previous Books of the Month, click here.