For a love of birds with wings, especially parrots.

barwin-yiddish-for-pirates“But what did happen to Adam and Eve? Did they hollow out the Tree of Knowledge, make a canoe and then paddle east to Europe?
Not these Heyerdahls.
But, if there ever were an Adam and Eve, who knows where they went?
Maybe they were Indios—or what came before Indios.
Or parrots.
I mean Adam and Eve: maybe they were birds.
I could see my great-great-great-infinitely-great-grand-parrot forebears fressing on apples, learning to name things, being too clever for their own good.
Or God’s.”

For a love of books with wings.

“If only we could have opened the chest, spread wide the books’ wings and let each letter lift from the pages, fly over the distant horizon, a murmuration of words, an escaping sigh. And if only these letters could have raised Sarah, the Doña, the rabbi and the others, lifted them from the deck on their tiny black wings. If only they could have carried them into the sky and beyond the reach of fire, if only they could have left the ship without a single word, without a single living soul.”

For a love of books without wings too.

“For a bird whose only library had been the waves, my world was becoming ongeshtupted with books. Moishe seemed to attract them the way analogies attract fools.”

For a particular love of birds who love books with and without wings.

“As a reader, the parrot Aaron is a polyglot, omnivore and a plunderer, and the complete sources of his learning are obscure. However, certain texts can be noted: Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island; Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Grand Inquisitor” from The Brothers Karamazov; Capt. Charles Johnson, A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates; Mary Johnston, 1492; Rafael Sabatini, Captain Blood; Shakespeare, The Tempest; Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Two Years Before the Mast; Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Edward Kritzler, Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean; Michael Wex, Just Say Nu; and a great variety of books on history, language and seafaring too numerous to mention here.” [This from the acknowledgments. The parrot is not a braggart.]

For a love of love.

“I am Fernández, yes, and cousin to that Sarah who you tried to help. I, too, have spoken with this would-be world-finder Columbus. I will travel with him, through the Pillars of Hercules, across Ocean Sea and beyond history’s vanishing point. With the Doña gone, there are no more rescue ships. And, in truth, this dark tide has already washed my heart to sea, and only habit keeps blood moving through me.”

For a love of language.

“Writing Hebrew, most of the time, you make do without vowels. Of course, when you speak, there are plenty of vowels—no matter how you mumble, you have to open your pisk eventually—unless your strudel-cave has been fully spelunked by cake, when it’s better to wait. When you read, you have to imagine the vowels wheezing between the consonants’ black masts. You know they exist, they’re just not there. Like God to the troubled faithful. Maybe in some other disconsonant world, there are Hebrew books where all the unwritten vowels appear, like the souls of the dead, reunited with their consonant bodies, but in this world, the story goes on without them.”

For a love of “Laverne & Shirley”.

“These four perfectly illustrated two species of Yiddish fool. Shlemiels pass out and find themselves in hot water. Schlimazels pull their friend from the roiling pot only to get their mortal goose cooked into soup.” (Maybe this is just me: was I the only devoted fan who didn’t understand ‘shlemiel’ and ‘schlimazel’, only dutifully sang along?)

For a love of story.

“I did not intend then to give tongue to what intelligence I had gained, but, na, there’s no greater ache than an untold story.”

For a love of laughter.

“As the unicorn said to the griffin when Noah built the Ark, ‘See, I told you there’s nothing to worry about.’”

And for the power that laughter can conceal.

“As we landed on each new island, Columbus seized a few more natives. By this time, he was calling them Indios. Indians.
Bet you can’t capture just one.
Besides, what do you get for a king and queen who have everything?”

That’s a lot of reasons: does any one of them call to you more so than the rest?