DESPITE OUR DIFFERENCES,
WE ARE THE SAME
Birds of a Feather now on Kindle!!
Collection is propelled by curiosity about human nature
From Lake Oconee Living Magazine
No one lives without despair and hope, grief and joy, tears and laughter, selfishness and gratitude, jealousy and empathy, self-loathing and self-love, destructiveness and creativity. Though we focus on differences, attempt to elevate our worth above others, justify our righteousness by comparing deeds, we essentially are all the same.
As Kaye Park Hinckley’s collection of short stories is titled, we are Birds of a Feather. “The theme of all the stories is sin and salvation,” says Hinckley, “the sinfulness of everyone and the opportunity for everyone to take advantage of God’s mercy.” Raised in the Catholic Church in the deep South, Hinckley crafts each story in Birds of a Feather out of her Southern heritage and her Catholic faith. “What I want people to take away from this book,” says Hinckley, “is that we are all created in the divine image of God.” Intertwining religion with regional culture, the collection is classic Southern literature in the same vein as short stories by the likes of Flannery O’Connor, whose work strongly influences that of Hinckley.
She writes characters who are shocking, flamboyant, disturbed, unkind. She writes characters who are merciful, gracious, empathic, loving. She writes characters who demonstrate the dualities of human nature. Edmund, in “Shooting at Heaven’s Gate,” allows himself to be used by evil. Rather than condemn his actions, Hinckley pushes her reader to acknowledge the frailties of the human heart. “We all are capable of doing great evil,” explains Hinckley. “Why does a person do this? I like to know reasons.” Curiosity about human nature propels her plots.
Don’t seek clearly defined protagonists and antagonists here, however. Hinckley’s characters are complicated. They’ve done horrible things, witnessed horrible things, been the victims of horrible things, yet they continue rising each morning and putting one foot in front of the other. They fulfill their obligations to each other while these horrible things gnaw at them from the inside out. Hinckley deftly presents the repulsiveness of her character’s actions, while also revealing her characters’ drive toward love.
In the story “Dragon,” Liz harbors guilt and secrets about a vengeful act that she believes revealed her true nature, which she pours out to a roadside café waitress as if making a confession. Her confessor comforts her, saying, “Listen Shugah, we all got to pass by the dragon . . . Don’t give him nothing else to eat.” The power of sinfulness is juxtaposed against the power of God’s mercy. The capability to do great evil lies next to the ability to advance great good.
In the midst of turmoil and wrestling with truth, Hinckley injects humor so familiar, it causes the reader to recognize himself. “Red Bird” poignantly traces the ocean of dementia into which the main character, Jude, drifts without fighting the tide. His wife, conflicted in her anger over his past wrongs and her duty to care for him in his illness, addresses him with irritation, asking, “Don’t you know who I am, Jude?” He doesn’t, so he grins and replies, “Don’t you know who you are?”
Released in July, Birds of a Feather contains ten short stories that hearken to Hinckley’s Alabama childhood, Georgia roots (on her mother’s side), and Catholic faith. She masterfully manipulates the English language and the vernacular to generate fully developed plots and well-rounded characters. Drawing on the influences of Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, and others, she infuses her writing with a bounty of symbolism. Most of all, she is fair, always fair to her characters and her reader. She allows them to make their own choices and to draw their own conclusions. Because, at the very core of the human condition, of us all, of Birds of a Feather, is free will.
Meet the author!
The Georgia Writers Museum in downtown Eatonton welcomes Kaye Park Hinckley, author of Birds of a Feather, for a book signing event on Oct. 30, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be served. For more information, call the museum at (706) 991-5119 or visit www.georgiawritersmuseum.com.