Cover image for Man with a seagull on his head
Title:
Man with a seagull on his head
ISBN:
9781771962391
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Windsor, ON : Biblioasis, 2017.
Physical Description:
206 pages ; 20 cm
Summary:
A quiet and deeply beautiful book about how a single perfect moment can haunt multiple lives.
Holds:

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Book Fiction Paige
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Book Fiction Paige
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Book Fiction Paige
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Summary

Summary

There is nothing interesting about Ray Eccles. He knows it himself. On the morning of his fortieth birthday, he goes for a walk because he's just learned of a dormant Second World War explosive offshore, and he's the kind of man who thinks a bomb might be good company. As he gazes at the sea, a woman in the distance suddenly turns to face him--and a dying seagull falls from the sky, knocking him unconscious.

When Ray wakes up, he's inexplicably compelled to paint the woman's image, obsessively and repeatedly: initially on any paper he can find in his house, and thereafter on the walls, using any materials that come to hand, including food and bodily fluids. Discovered by a power couple of Outsider Art, he becomes one of the most celebrated artists of the century, and soon even small-town newspapers are covering his work--which is how Jennifer, the woman on the beach, discovers she's the subject of the paintings that have set the world on fire, leading her to wonder if a man she's never met is the only person who has ever really seen her.

Man with a Seagull on His Head is a novel about the impossibility of ever really knowing anyone, and the electric charge that comes from real if unexpected connection. Beautiful, lyrical, and strangely moving, it heralds a wonderful and original new voice.


Author Notes

Harriet Paige was born in 1979 and grew up in Devon, in the south west of England. She studied English and American Literature at the University of Warwick and returned in 2004 to do an MA in Writing. After completing the programme she continued to develop her writing alongside working as an interiors journalist and bringing up her three children. Man With a Seagull on His Head is her debut novel.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Page's graceful debut follows an unwitting artist's rise to fame and provides deep introspections about loneliness and death. A seagull falls from the sky and hits Ray Eccles on the beach in Shoeburyness, England. A discombobulated Ray fixates on Jennifer Mulholland, the only witness of his accident, and subsequently covers the walls of his house with crudely drawn renditions of her face (always as he saw it right after the accident) using whatever materials he can find: food, blood, semen. His frantic work draws the attention of outsider art collectors George and Grace Zoob. They move Ray into their London apartment and attempt to involve him in their open marriage, though Ray does not reciprocate their attraction. Years later, Ray has gained significant success from obsessively producing the same image. Jennifer, now married into a sprawling Italian family, learns that she has been an unwitting muse. She travels to London to meet Ray, arriving just as Grace assaults Ray over his indifference to her. Ray flees with no memory of his time as an artist and spends years on the street with a befriended pigeon. The story concludes far in the future with a touching final moment. The novel's charming, light tone nicely balances its powerful meditations on art and failed expectations, resulting in a moving story. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Paige's debut, an unusual meditation on art and life, offers few concrete answers to its fascinating questions about meaning. At the moment a seagull drops on Ray Eccles' head, his eyes open to a woman's face. He paints that face, over and over, for years: first in foodstuffs on the wall of his rented bungalow, and later in sought-after paintings as part of the outsider-art movement. Paige invites us to spend time in the life of Eccles' unknown muse, a young mother who runs a dress shop and who eventually discovers her fame. We meet the reporter whose small-town story on Eccles is found on a train by his future patron. We also encounter Mira, orphaned at 18 and possibly Ray's daughter. Mira might also be the daughter of the man who, with his wife, took Ray into his home and encouraged his art. The small moment with the seagull ripples into large impacts across many lives in untidy ways that are nonetheless compelling and honest.--Emily Dziuban Copyright 2018 Booklist


Library Journal Review

DEBUT Ray Eccles appears to be an ordinary bloke. After his mother's death, he rents a bungalow in Shoeburyness, -England, photocopies forms for the Southend District Council, and keeps to himself. All changes on his 40th birthday when a seagull falls on his head. Just before impact, he looks deeply into the eyes and soul of a young woman who sits nearby on the beach and forever after compulsively paints her image using whatever is at hand-the walls of the house, food, and other less wholesome materials. In her debut novel, Canadian author Paige uncovers Eccles's life, his discovery as an outsider artist, and the lives of those touched by him. From the woman who is his muse to the art collectors who promote him, his paintings act as the catalyst leading to their accidental encounters. Paige explores the need for her characters to prove their existence through art, crafts, writing, painting, and business. VERDICT Published in Canada in 2017, this novel introduces readers to a new and exciting voice worth watching closely.-Jacqueline Snider, Toronto © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.