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An Evening with Birdy O'Day

An Evening with Birdy O'Day

By Greg Kearney
Categories: LGBTQ+, Gay Literature, Fiction
Paperback : 9781551529417, 336 pages, 2024


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 Winnipeg 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 concert in Winnipeg 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.


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

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 1970s working-class Winnipeg, 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, and An Evening with Birdy O'Day is like nothing Canadian literature has ever seen. -Zoe Whittall, author of The Fake

An absolute stunner of a novel - haunting, heartbreaking, and insanely funny. Kearney writes with surgical precision and breathtaking nuance. This story is one that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page. -Lisa Foad, author of The Night Is a Mouth

Kearney writes trauma, grief and especially chronic illness not only with levity, but a devastating universality. In the working-class Winnipeg depicted here, bad things frequently happen, and sometimes talking about them plainly is the only way to cope ... Kearney honours the nuances of found family alongside the heartbreaking feat of being a queer elder still living in his hometown. -Winnipeg Free Press