Review: The Painted Bird

The Painted Bird
The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosiński
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I chose to read this book for Banned Books Week 2013. A quote from that September 14th blog post:

In tenth grade, this book was assigned to us. It was the most difficult book I had read to that point, but it was also by far the one I wanted to finish most. Traumatic is a good word to describe reading this book. And it has taken a couple decades to want to try reading it again.

Due to a number of parents complaining about the book, our teacher took back the copies. I marked this book as read on Goodreads, but I do not think now I really did finish it. So I plan on finishing it and making it right.

So now I have finished it.

I still think this is the most difficult book I have ever read. The main character suffers constantly from things I can only describe as torture, rape, and assault. I have seen some complaints about the amount of sex and torture in A Song of Ice and Fire. The child in this book is under the age of 12 and goes through more in the first 100 pages than the entirety of ASoIaF. Reading it was an emotional struggle, but I think a book that brings out that much emotion is good.

It lost a star for the ending. The last 30 or so pages left me wondering why they were included as they felt like an entirely different book. Maybe that was something like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder where after so much terror a normal text no longer feels right.

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2012 Reading List

I had three reading goals:

Complete unfinished novel series.

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire
    1. DONE — A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) — George R.R. Martin
    2. DONE — A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) — George R.R. Martin
    3. DONE — A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) — George R.R. Martin
    4. DONE — A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4) — George R.R. Martin
    5. DONE — A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) — George R.R. Martin
  2. Wicked Years
    1. DONE — Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years, #1) — Gregory Maguire
    2. DONE — Son of a Witch (Wicked Years, #2) — Gregory Maguire
    3. NOT DONE — A Lion Among Men (Wicked Years, #3) — Gregory Maguire
  3. The Malazan Book of the Fallen
    1. DONE — Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2) — Steven Erikson
    2. DONE — Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #3) — Steven Erikson
    3. DONE — House of Chains (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #4) — Steven Erikson
    4. DONE — Midnight Tides (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #5) — Steven Erikson
    5. DONE — The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #6) — Steven Erikson
    6. NOT DONE — Reaper’s Gale (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #7) — Steven Erikson
    7. NOT DONE — Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #8) — Steven Erikson
    8. NOT DONE — Dust of Dreams (The Malazan Book Of The Fallen #9) — Steven Erikson
    9. NOT DONE — The Crippled God (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #10) — Steven Erikson
  4. Barsoom
    1. DONE — A Princess of Mars — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    2. DONE — The Gods of Mars (Barsoom, #2) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    3. DONE — The Warlord of Mars (Barsoom, #3) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    4. DONE — Thuvia, Maid of Mars (Barsoom, #4) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    5. DONE — The Chessmen of Mars (Barsoom, #5) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    6. DONE — The Master Mind of Mars (Barsoom, #6) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    7. DONE — A Fighting Man of Mars (Barsoom, #7) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    8. DONE — Swords of Mars (Barsoom, #8) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    9. DONE — Synthetic Men of Mars (Barsoom #9) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
  5. Millennium
    1. DONE — The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium, #2) — Stieg Larsson
    2. DONE — The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium, #3) — Stieg Larsson
Total: 28. Done: 23. Failed.

American History and Decision Making

  1. DONE — Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist — Tyler Cowen
  2. DONE — The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business — Clayton M. Christensen
  3. DONE — The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth — Clayton M. Christensen
  4. DONE — Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis — Jimmy Carter
  5. DONE — The Federalist Papers — Alexander HamiltonJames MadisonJohn Jay
  6. DONE — 1776 — David McCullough
  7. DONE — All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis — Bethany McLeanJoe Nocera
  8. DONE — Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet — Jeffrey D. Sachs
  9. DONE — American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House — Jon Meacham
  10. DONE — At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA — George Tenet
Total: 10. Done: 10. Completed.


  1. DONE — The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong — David Shenk
  2. DONE — The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2010 — Freeman DysonTim Folger
  3. DONE — The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe — Stephen Hawking
  4. DONE — The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves — W. Brian Arthur
  5. DONE — The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It  — Philip ZimbardoNikita Duncan
  6. DONE — Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life — Steven Johnson
  7. DONE — NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children — Po BronsonAshley Merryman
  8. DONE — The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World — Michael Pollan
  9. DONE — The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement — David Brooks
  10. DONE — What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty — John Brockman
  11. DONE — The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design — Leonard Susskind
  12. DONE — A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down — Robert B. Laughlin
  13. DONE — Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking — D.Q. McInerny
Total: 13. Done: 13. Completed.

Not Your Oprah’s Book Club (FacebookGoodreads) selections:
(Facebook page for Athens book club)

  1. DONE — The House of Mirth — Edith Wharton
  2. DONE — Love is a Mix Tape — Rob Sheffield

Re-read to watch the movie:

  1. DONE — The Hobbit — 
  2. DONE   — 


  1. DONE — The Picture of Dorian Gray — Oscar Wilde
  2. DONE — Ubik — 
  3. DONE  Free Will — Sam Harris
  4. DONE  Free Will: A Response to Sam Harris  Kurt Keefner
  5. DONE — The Three Musketeers — Alexandre Dumas


My Crack
A Feast for Crows when first published

Last year I bought a paperback set of A Song of Ice and Fire. Yes, I own the four books in the set. (The fifth was published in hardback at the same time.) Rather than continue messing up my hardbacks from multiple reads, I thought paperbacks would be better. Well, I finally got around to reading them and noticed a big misprint. Pages 565 and 566 in A Feast for Crows were actually 575 and 576. It was not a great part of the story.

But it nagged at me so much that it was all I wanted to mention when asked by Goodreads about a review when I marked it as read. A friend commented on it. I wondered if someone had posted the page online. Just searching on “Feast for Crows 565” led me to lots of reviews complaining about it. I found the missing pages in Google Books. Someone suggested contacting the publisher.

So I decided to try. printed on the book goes to There I found an FAQ entry suggesting for typographical errors, I contact customer service. So I sent a quick email to the address with the ISBN and title as requested. I just wanted the page. The response was they do not send a copy of the page, but if they have extra copies, then they would send me a whole free book. I just needed to send the printing run. I did.

Today I got the replacement copy. It has the correct pages at 565. Thank you Random House!

It has a very different print run number. Will have to dig at some point and try to figure out how companies come up with the print run number.



The only books I have ever pre-ordered are the ones for A Song of Ice and Fire. The question came up about whether George R. R. Martin has the time to finish the books before the HBO television series catches up to him. In summary he estimates the television series will take multiple seasons for some books:

  • Book one: one season
  • Book two: one season
  • Book three: two seasons
  • Books four and five*: three seasons

Total: 7 seasons

* These are parts A and B of a single book. Events on each continent went into their own books. Book five is not even out yet. The last date given was Feb 15, 2007. In my opinion, it would be smart to have it published while the HBO series is out to renew interest, so let’s say it hits shelves April 2011.

Let’s assume it takes a year from start of one season to start of the next season. That means you get them…

  • Book one:  2011
  • Book two:  2012
  • Book three:  2013 and  2014
  • Books four and five:  2015,  2016,  2017
  • Book six:  2018 and  2019
  • Book seven:  2020 and  2021

I think this is what GRRM was trying to describe as he has plenty of time.

To make this timeline work, GRRM has 8 years to write two books. He has spent over ten years on books four and five. He’ll have to pick up the pace to make this timeline. Personally, I do not see it unless he stops spending so much time at conventions, watching football, and most recently consulting on the HBO series.

Maybe the seasons will take longer than a year? We saw that somewhat with Sopranos.

Maybe much of the story is already laid out in advance for some of the final books.

Maybe HBO will cancel the series after season one and make all this moot.


George R. R. Martin ranting about bad endings seems odd. “C’mon. Writing 101.”

One of my bigger terrors is his end to A Song of Ice and Fire will be bad. A slightly bigger one is 3 years between books means the end is possibly a decade away and a sedentary lifestyle will prevent us from getting to read it.

Maybe writing 101 really means never put it down on paper?