Lucas and Grinder Ingersol get word of their mother’s passing. Neither of them have seen or heard from Millie in decades—not since she left for the mall and never came back. She was living in Philadelphia all along, not too far from her sons, which inspires a road trip. The only thing the brothers know for sure is that Millie’s health was bad, she had a fall, and she was living with someone named Paul.
A quirky family adventure through painful memories, abandonment issues, and a collective sense of enlightenment, Parrot Talk is a quick and familiar read. Lucas and Grinder are as opposite as they come and their nonstop brotherly bickering only gets worse when they find that Millie’s beloved Paul is a parrot. A parrot too witty for Lucas’s patience and just enough like Millie to fuel Grinder’s curiosity. Millie’s closest friend begs the brothers to take Paul to the vet after his health has a frightful turn after the funeral. Lucas is instantly agitated by this blip in his life, but Grinder develops a soft spot for Paul, especially as he is the only connection he has to a mother he barely knew.
Paul is depressed. He loved Millie and without her, the parrot will not eat and anxiously picks away at his feathers. Dealing with Paul means that this quick trip to see their mom off has turned into a longer ordeal, a problem that Lucas whines about constantly. On top of his annoyance comes his newly ex-wife Martha, a woman that still lives with Lucas, demands his attention and care, and is gratingly vapid and obnoxious. She comes with the news that their cruel, alcoholic father is coming to town as well since he has found sobriety in the face of Jesus Christ shaped into a piece of chicken he keeps in his pocket. You know, one of those guys. This nightmare of a family reunion picks away at the raw and deeply buried emotions and memories of Lucas’s and Grinder’s youth.
Honestly, I thought the parrot would have been the wackiest character in the bunch, but I was extremely mistaken. I like to think that each of these characters are heightened examples of their vices intentionally. Lucas is a disgusting and pathetic man that profusely sweats, curses, and blows his nose through the story. I am not kidding when I say that Lucas blowing his nose might be more common of a mention than the word ‘parrot’ in this entire novel. That being said, the image was extremely effective. As I mentioned, Martha was a human trash-fire. The father brought more cracked spiritual revelations to the table than actual apologies. Grinder is a sensitive man that let himself get stuck in a dead-end life. Paul is a parrot with more personality than a lot of non-fictional human beings I have met.
No matter how extreme the traits might seem, the characters are believable in their own chaotic way. The family unit is a mess, which I feel is very honest and relatable, especially when it comes to coping with a death.
Grinder Ingersol is definitely the anchor of the novel and without him, the plot would be riddled with shouting, misunderstandings, and too much giving up. He is a breath of fresh air in a tangled, angry group of individuals who refuse to deal with difficult times both practically and emotionally. All it took for this family to have a quiet moment together was a parrot and an excuse to bring up the past.
David B. Seaburn
Black Rose Writing