A Thing With Feathers
J. John Nordstrom
The Writing Collective (2021)
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (01/2022)
“A Thing With Feathers” takes me back to those novels reviewers used to categorize as “sweeping.” Why is that? Because every scene is written so deftly, so vividly, that I felt like I was quite literally standing by the side of the character at the time and living these moments with them. To say this is unforgettable would be an understatement. A litany of emotions are written to the nth degree; heartbreak, longing, hatred, tragedy – you name it, it’s in here.
Readers meet up with Jonah. At the age of 40, Jonah is a lawyer who wants more than anything to be a writer. He is so sick and tired of the corruption prevalent in the legal profession in his place of business, Washington, D.C., that he quits his practice. Unfortunately, he also loses his girlfriend, and goes into a suicidal depression. One thing that truly gets to Jonah are the dreams he’s having. They’re almost ghostly…the haunting figures of the intense writer Poe dancing with the magical author, Emily Dickinson. These dreams save Jonah in a way because he starts to believe that by constantly seeing these incredible writers, fate has some unknown plan for him. So…why commit suicide when there’s obviously something up ahead, right?
When Jonah cannot pay his bills anymore, he doesn’t go back into law. In fact, he takes a job as a reference librarian (I love those people. My mom was one and they don’t get enough credit!) in a law library. But wait…nothing is that easy. Part of the stipulation to get and keep the job is that Jonah must pretend to be a gay man. You see, Superintendent Crawford and Law Librarian Mimi Streeter, the runners of the library who are not only moronic bullies but absolute tyrants, will only hire gay people who have financial problems. This is because they feel people like that are more submissive, which means these two idiots can control them easier.
Although Jonah’s not happy about doing this, he agrees. But when the two at the top of the ladder find out they’ve been lied to, instead of just firing Jonah, they hire a woman lawyer who is only 27 and make her Jonah’s boss; they secretly believe that Jonah will walk because he’ll hate being ordered around by a female much younger than him. As with all evil schemes, Jonah doesn’t mind; in fact, he and this Julia woman start to fall head over heels for one another. (Poe and Dickinson together for eternity, perhaps?) Now, Jonah has a lot to live for; his heart is full once again, and he and Julia must join forces against Crawford and Streeter…who are most definitely not done with them yet.
This is a dark, intelligent, suspenseful “game” and, because of the number of genres that are included (mystery/romance/drama), it appeals to a ton of readers. Mr. Nordstrom has done an excellent job: every time I thought he was going one way, he twisted and turned like a true artistic snake and led me somewhere else. That’s the biggest compliment a writer can get!