It is 1964, and Peter Levi, a young student and bird watcher, has come to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. Shy and innocent at nineteen years old, he arrives fresh from an extended Maine holiday with his vivacious mother, and is determined to live a life free of unwanted complications and unnecessary stress. But this is an era of great change in the world, a time when war is looming in Southeast Asia and social unrest is simmering. There is much to trouble and confuse the young American as he journeys through foreign countries—and feelings—into adulthood. For Peter, the simplicity of childhood is over—and his new life is becoming increasingly complex in a world growing more unrecognizable by the day.
Mary McCarthy’s splendid Birds of America is a moving and surprising coming-of-age tale: the unforgettable story of a young man’s awakening, and a stunning evocation of the disorienting change of the 1960s.