An Evening with Birdy O'Day

Arsenal Pulp Press
Greg Kearney
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A funny, boisterous, and deeply moving novel about aging hairstylist Roland's childhood friendship with Birdy O'Day, whose fevered quest for pop music glory drives them apart.

Roland Keener is an aging hairstylist who's lived and worked in the same town all his life. He's more or less content with the quiet and predictable days he shares with his partner of twenty-five years, Tony. That is, until he hears that Birdy O'Day — washed-up music icon and Roland's childhood best friend and first love — is playing his first hometown concert since fleeing decades earlier.

Holing up with a scrapbook of news clippings about Birdy, Roland recalls his childhood in the '60s: Growing up poor with a single mother, he meets a boy at school who calls himself Birdy and is unlike anyone he's ever known. The two become inseparable, with Roland an eager sidekick to Birdy and his dreams of stardom. But when Birdy gets his big break, Roland is left behind, bereft. They become estranged over the years; one tours the world as a pop music sensation while the other struggles to chart a new path forward. But now, Birdy's imminent return to town is a chance for both of them to finally come to terms with their glorious yet troubled past.

A funny and poignant novel about hero worship, heartbreak, and queer survival, An Evening with Birdy O'Day will remind you that you can never go home again — even if you never left it in the first place.

“Kearney tenderly and wittily explores the entangled (and entangling) lifelong kinship between Roland and Birdy, two boys who experience an enduring bond despite vast betrayals, the fickleness of fame, and the inevitable passage of time. Funny, artful, infuriating, and endearing, a poignant meditation on what it means to offer ― and accept ― the ‘gift’ of love.” ― Suzette Mayr, Giller Prize-winning author of The Sleeping Car Porter

An Evening with Birdy O’Day is like a modern-day Wharton novel crossed with a Kids in the Hall sketch. Like everything Kearney writes, it is biting and hilarious, with characters as tough and smart as they are tragic. Both a satire of celebrity culture and a moving portrait of two gay boys coming of age in a 1970s working-class town, this ambitious novel is propulsive and electrifying. Once I started reading, I could not put it down, and for once I'm not lying when I say that. Kearney is a masterful storyteller of stunning intellect.” ― Zoe Whittall, author of The Fake

“Nobody does razor-witted tenderness like Greg Kearney. Bluntly incisive, endearing, and uproarious, An Evening with Birdy O’Day dazzled and delighted me. This book is a love bomb, and Roland and his mom are my heroes.” ― Jessica Westhead, author of Avalanche

Contributor Bio

Greg Kearney is the author of Mommy Daddy Baby (2004) Pretty (2011, ReLit Award winner for short fiction) and the novel The Desperates (2013, Lambda Literary Award finalist). His plays have been mounted at Theatre Passe Muraille and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. He lives in Toronto.