Title Profile & Character Information

The Spectator Bird

Annotation
Joe Allston is a retired literary agent who is, in his own words, "just killing time until time gets around to killing me." His parents and his only son are long dead, leaving him with neither ancestors nor descendants, tradition nor ties. His job, trafficking the talent of others, had not been his choice. He passes through life as a spectator.

A postcard from a friend causes Allston to return to the journals of a trip he had taken years before, a journey to his mother's birthplace, where he'd sought a link with the past. The memories of that trip, both grotesque and poignant, move through layers of time and meaning, and reveal that Joe Allston isn't quite spectator enough.

"Elegant and entertaining . . . Every scene [is] adroitly staged and each effect precisely acomplished." —The Atlantic



Awards
1977  National Book Awards
1976  California Book Awards

Characters
NameAllston, Joe
GenderMale
OccupationLiterary agent
TraitsRetired
Married

NameAllston, Ruth
GenderFemale
TraitMarried

GenreLiterary
Domestic
Psychological
Fiction
TopicsAging
Husbands and wives
Marriage
Memories
Journals
Life choices
SettingDenmark
San Francisco, California
Countryside