No Birds Sing Here by Daniel V. Meier Jr. Genre: Satirical Literary Fiction
Satire at its best!
In this indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time, two young people, Beckman and Malany set out on an odyssey to find meaning and reality in the artistic life, and in doing so unleash a barrage of humorous, unintended consequences.
Beckman and Malany's journey reflects the allegorical evolution of humanity from its primal state, represented by Beckman's dismal life as a dishwasher to the crude, medieval development of manking in a pool hall, and then to the false but erudite veneer of sophistication of the academic world.
The world these protagonists life in is a world without love. It has every other variety of drive and emotion, but not love. Do they know it? Not yet. And they won't until they figure out why no birds sing here.
Meier's writing is precise and detailed, whether the situation he describes is clear or ambiguous.
Fans of Franzen and Salinger will find Meier to be another sharp, provocative writer of our time.
Beckman squatted in the corner, thinking. His cell mate, staring at him from darkened caves, kept his worn and spotted coat pulled close to his body, even though it was hot in the cell.
Beckman stared back and, with a surge of daring, asked the man, "What are you here for?"
The man, without changing his expression--he had no expression to begin with--said through ventriloquist lips, "food and shelter."
"You mean you got arrested so that you could come here to eat and sleep?"
The man nodded. "It used to be easy. All you had to do was stagger down the street and they would pick you up, but now--I had to get on the bus and go all the way to Germantown. I staggered around out there about fifteen minutes before they came and got me. It's getting to be a real problem. I don't do it much, you know, not like some of the other fellas who are always trying to get in here. I just do it whenever I really need a square meal and can't find it no other way."
"One thing I've always wanted to ask men like you."
"Men like me?" the cell mate repeated, with a smile.
"How did it happen? How did you end up like this?"
"You've asked the wrong man, my friend. You should ask them." The man swept his arm toward the cell door and window, "They'd know better than I would. All I seem to remember is one day realizing that I didn't care about anything. They could do what they wanted to me." He swept his arms toward the window again "and I didn't give a real damn. I figured I'd be dead in a week, but that didn't happen. I've lived like this for ten years now, and still don't give a damn."
The man stared at Beckman more intensely and, with a smile, said, "Young man, I think we have a lot in common."
Beckman was struck with horror. He crouched back in his corner, his former courage gone. The cell mate stared at him for a long time, then climbed into his bunk and lay facing the wall.
Beckman trembled in the heat of his corner. The prophetic truth of the man's words resounded in his head, obliterating thought as well as standing beliefs, invalidated memory, and pounded with demonic force at the walls of his heart.
A retired Aviation Safety Inspector for the FAA, Daniel V. Meier, Jr. has always had a passion for writing. During his college years, he studied History at The University of North Carolina Wilmington and American Literature at The University of Maryland Graduate School. In 1980 he was published by Leisure Books under the pen name of Vice Daniels. He also worked briefly for the Washington Business Journal as a journalist and has been a contributing writer/editor for several aviation magazines.
Dan and his wife live in Owings, Maryland, about twenty miles south of Annapolis and when he's not writing, they spend their summers sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.