For thirty years, Brian Brett shared his office and his life with Tuco, a remarkable parrot given to asking such questions as “Whaddya know?” and announcing “Party time!” when guests showed up at Brett’s farm. Although Brett bought Tuco on a whim as a pet, he gradually realizes the enormous obligation he has to the bird and learns that the parrot is a lot more complex than he thought.
Simultaneously a biography of this singular bird and a history of bird/dinosaurs and the human relationship with birds, Tuco also explores how we “other” the world?abusing birds, landscapes, and each other?including Brett’s own experience with a rare genetic condition that turned his early years into an obstacle course of bullying and nurtured his affinity for winged creatures. The book also provides an in-depth examination of our ideas about knowledge, language, and intelligence (including commentary from Tuco himself) and how as we learn more about animal languages and intelligence we continually shift our definitions of them in order to retain our “superiority.” As Brett says, “Whaddya know” Not much. I don’t even know what knowledge is. I know only the magic . . . and the mysteries.” By turns provocative, profound, hilarious, and deeply moving, this fascinating memoir will remain with the reader long after the last page has been turned.
About the author
Brian Brett was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1950 and studied literature at Simon Fraser University. He has been associated with several firms as an editor and publisher and has been a reviewer for many publications and newspapers.In the early seventies, he began working as a freelance journalist and critic for various publications and newspapers, including The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Vancouver Sun, The New Reader, Books in Canada, the Victoria Times-Colonist and theVancouver Province — where he was the poetry critic for two years, and had his own column. His journalism has appeared in almost every major newspaper in Canada, and his essays in most of the major magazines. Brett inaugurated the BC Poetry-in-the-Schools program, introducing children in schools to world poetry for a period of several years, and has taught or given workshops on writing across Canada. He has been a member of organizations ranging from P.E.N. International, the League of Canadian Poets, the Federation of BC Writers, to the Writers' Union of Canada. While a member of the League of Canadian Poets he performed a national reading tour under their auspices. He has also given readings on CBC Radio and various other media as well as public performances funded by private organizations, universities, Harbourfront, Vancouver International Writers Festival, Saltwater Festival, Sechelt Writers’ Festival, Wordfest: Banff Calgary International Writers Festival, the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, National Book Festival, and the Canada Council. Brett is the author of several books of fiction and poetry, including, Tanganyika (Thistledown Press, 1991), The Fungus Garden (Thistledown Press, 1988) Coyote (Thistledown 2003), and Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life (2009) for which he won the Writers Trust Non-Fiction Prize. He lives on a farm on Salt Spring Island.