A luminous account of largely unrecognised experiences in the aftermath of war.
This is not a war story about heroism or healing trauma, but an attempt to fill the gaps in a family story in the wake of the Vietnam War and re-animate a father never really known.
Life with Birds invests in the small scale, the domestic and the ordinary as an overlooked part of Australian military history.
Bronwyn Rennex has used whatever materials she could find in order to attempt to retrieve her father - family stories, love letters, legal documents, birds - and the gaps between these documents form perhaps the most important part of this story- a failure that describes a loss. Rather than describing her mother's grief at her father's death, Rennex uses love letters and her mother's written claim for a war widow's pension to map the shape of her mother's love and loss.
Told in fragments and mixing speculation, imagination and guesswork, the narrative is personal, angry, political and also funny, balancing a desire for some form of testimony with a commitment to questioning how we talk about war.
This is a poignant and compelling account of largely unrecognised experiences in the aftermath of war.