This is a strange, diverting novel, very short--you could read it in one sitting. On the surface, it's a straightforward story of a man whose wife died suddenly in some kind of accident. He's left to cope with two young sons, who of course have to cope as well. While struggling to adapt, a crow appears and begins talking to them and ultimately helps them through their grief.
So, a bit fantastical, and you can view the crow in many ways, obviously metaphorically. However, the widower is a literary scholar who is writing a book about Ted Hughes' Crow. Crow is widely considered to be Hughes' masterpiece. It's a dark, disturbing, sometimes raucous book of poetry about Crow, a lusty, belligerent bird seeking his creator. During the journey, Crow takes on religious beliefs, sex, nature, you name it. One of the primary characteristics of Crow is he's a Trickster. All of this comes into play in this short novel, which I enjoyed very much--it's both moving and funny in places, and Crow brings a lot of comic relief. But I had to wonder: If you're not familiar with Hughes' Crow, what do you make of this crow, which seems clearly to be an homage to the earlier version? If you're reading this post, and you've read this book with no knowledge of Crow, let me know what you thought. I'm just curious.
I also found this to be a fitting companion piece for another study of grief and mourning, Lincoln in the Bardo. I read them back-to-back, not planned--just the way the library queue worked. But as different as they are, they share some foundations of the human condition, especially in response to grief. And of course, the title is a wonderful play on words involving the famous Emily Dickinson poem, which itself is apropos for this book.