From Carolina Coast:
To say that Stephen March's novel, "Catbird," sticks to a reader like July in the South is not a bad thing. The Elizabeth City author is so adept at creating a memorable story that it is difficult to release the tale upon finishing the last page. That is a good thing, because there is plenty to ponder in March's first published novel. He focuses on Southern folk attempting to survive family history and life in general. But to slot his writing solely as Southern would be only partially true. The traits, dreams and demons of his characters know no borders. In "Catbird," March tells the story of a family whose father's suicide colors the adult lives of three brothers, who wonder over and over why their father killed himself. They find themselves dealing with effects of their loss that are less
obvious than the swamp-fringed and crumbling family homestead.
March, like a good parent, allows his characters to make their own mistakes, and pay for them. They wrestle with love, failure, identity, and status. Zeb wanders from home to play his fiddle. L.C. seeks solace in women. Mom is ever faithful on the sidelines reading scripture, always encouraging her boys to take the high road home. While it would be easy to pin their misery on the sins of the father, they discover self while mining their often unnamed pain. Rather than accepting blankly the place society and family have assigned to them, they rise up.
The story is graced with human psychology so deftly interwoven that it sneaks up on the reader like a cat in the night. But its prose quality is unmistakable, as with this passage, which takes place after Zeb's wife has left him. "He his Tuscaloosa, Alabama at twilight and took another black beauty. The hours were gliding by like sailboats. He was moving so fast he had outrun his pain. He could feel it back there in the night, hurrying to catch up."
March, a professor at Elizabeth City State University, is an award-winning writers whose novella, "Armadillo" won the Clay Reynolds Prize in the Novella. His short story collection, "Love to the Spirits" won the 2005 Independent Publisher's Award in Short Fiction. In every work he teaches us that beauty exists in all of life, not just in the obvious places. "Catbird" is a mix of pain, hope and subtle humor. By masterfully crafting person and place, March presents naked truth, the only life worth living.
— Mary Ellen Riddle
Praise for Catbird
"(Catbird) is written with the kind of psychological clarity that allows us instantly to know its characters as well as we know ourselves. March doesn't use a lot of words, but each is carefully chosen, and every descriptive phrase creates a vivid picture in our minds. Give this fine work the word of mouth it deserves."
"The breakup of his marriage forces a young Southerner to reach back into his family's past to salvage his identity. March's likeable first novel is unerringly true in its evocation of Southern mores."
"March effectively captures the rural South circa the early Seventies, matching it with the individual's struggle against the failures of the past and despair for the future. This book is recommended for larger collections."
— Library Journal