Dirty Birds

Author: Morgan Murray
Genre: Fiction
Format: paperback
Pages: 432
Dimensions: 4.25 × 6.875 × 2 in
Weight: 1 kg
Published: August 7, 2020
ISBN: 9781550818079


In late 2007, as the world’s economy crumbles, the remarkably unremarkable Milton Ontario—not to be confused with Milton, Ontario—leaves his parent’s basement in Saskatchewan and sets forth to find fame, fortune, and love in the electric sexuality of Montreal, to bask in endless Millennial adolescence, to escape the infinite flatness of Saskatchewan, and to find his messiah: Leonard Cohen.

Hilariously ironic and irreverent, Dirty Birds is a quest novel for the twenty-first century—a coming-of-age, rom-com, crime-farce thriller—where a hero’s greatest foe is his own crippling mediocrity, and getting out of bed before noon.


“Canadians rejoice! Our Vonnegut has finally arrived! Morgan Murray’s debut is a great, brawling, sprawling, muscular glory of a story. Funny, dark, and wholly original.” – Will Ferguson, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize

“Fortune or misfortune? Fate or coincidence? Genius or idiocy? Ah, the polarity that runs rampant throughout this highly entertaining and adventurous love story where passion keeps sprinting headlong into reality, learning nothing from the crashes. I love this amusing story, which reminds me a lot of the one time I met Leonard Cohen, whom I thought was very, very nice?” – Vish Khanna, Kreative Kontrol

“In Dirty Birds Morgan Murray has magnificently created one of my favourite narrative perspectives: the diffident anti-hero. This book is Tom Robbins, with grotesquely entertaining characters, dancing between sex and death, sometimes in the same scene. It’s John Irving with a protagonist that draws attention to just how much better everyone else is at everything. And it’s Kurt Vonnegut, carrying you through a quilt of strange scenes that leap from tumble weed to high-speed chase in a single page and have you contemplating the meaning of life. It’s pulls you out of your own world where you are probably doing something interesting and important, and transports you to nowhere-Saskatchewan, where you are hanging off every word of the terrible poetry of an entirely average man-child. It would be a coming of age story, except Milton barely advances. But in that way it is so real, and you love him anyway, rooting for him to become someone you can be proud of. I LOVED this book, and I kind of want a sequel, and the idea of a sequel about a guy who’s arguably learned nothing is maybe a TERRIBLE idea and that makes me love this book even more.” – Jenny Mitchell, Bird City and CFRU Radio, Guelph

“One of the most fun and dynamic aspects of the book is Morgan’s facility with different dialogues. These include, but are not limited to, the matrix of the prairie junior hockey structure, the non-stop conversation of a Newfoundland taxi driver, academic papers, police files, and, most prominently, Milton’s poetry. These are often decoded and/or annotated in footnotes, a comedic amplification that’s an effective and refreshing device in this fiction. There’s work and care in the writing; the experiences, however foolish, feel earned. At the same time it’s kinetic: the words, like birds, take flight.” – Joan Sullivan, The Telegram

“This book would make a great Canadian film starring Michael Cera. Refreshingly backlit with the nostalgia of Obama era planet Earth, riffing on a myriad of contemporary themes including intergenerational tensions and anxieties, global economic frailty and the pursuit of young desire, Dirty Birds is the perfect misfit read for your next layaway, or when you’re down to your last shot of whisky. It provides days’ worth of warm, weird feelings.” – Nathaniel G. Moore, Atlantic Books Today

“Murray’s Dirty Birds is a brilliant, antic, absurd and cut-to-the-quick satire of millennial life. There’s a laugh and beautifully conjured insight on every page of this joyful extravaganza. A very, very funny and boldly imagined novel.” – Lisa Moore, winner of Canada Reads

“The star of Dirty Birds, Milton Ontario, burgeoning poet, has travelled from the middle-of-nowhere Saskatchewan to the grime of Montreal in search of adventure and Leonard Cohen. And, unfortunately, adventure and Leonard Cohen are just what he finds. Milton is no anti-hero but the negative of a hero, a man floundering through life when life’s got it in for him. Dirty Birds is a novel full of jubilant calamity, escapade, and roguery and Milton has under-packed. Featuring a brash cast of characters that shout and shine from the pages and steamroll Milton at every turn, this book is that rare thing–both hilarious and brilliantly clever. Dirty Birds will have you cheering for a wet-noodle-on-the-lam as he is thrown from one catastrophe to the next in search of love and poetry. Get your hands on Dirty Birds! A brilliant, buoyant, mournful romp.” – Melissa Barbeau, author The Luminous Sea

“Morgan Murray has crafted a playful, stylish, hilarious novel about a young artist not coming of age. He has taken to the cliché of the sad, gifted young man ascending to literary greatness and turned it upside down. This is a novel sprinkled with sketches, peppered with footnotes, and dripping with a scalding, humble irony. This is the classic genre of the Künstlerroman dragged kicking and screaming into the contemporary Canadian writing scene.” – Tom Halford, author Deli Meat

“Morgan Murray’s Dirty Birds is the delightful, literary, hoser middle ground between A Series Of Unfortunate Events and Jackass. The story of Milton Ontario’s poetic aspirations spans over 500 nonsensical pages and, even though you won’t understand a word Noddy or Georgette or Jerry or Gerry is saying, I promise you won’t be bored… this is an impressive debut novel that knows when to joke and when to deliver some actually poetic inner monologue. I can’t wait to see what Murray comes up with next.” – Haley Reads Books

Dirty Birds is absurd and tender, familiar and bizarre, and completely unforgettable.” – Jean Graham, The Northeast Avalon Times

“Satirical, clever… unrestrained and funny, Dirty Birds, is a great read.” – Atlantic Book Reviews

“A vast, fantastic and original book, not to mention utterly hilarious. The kind of book you’ll devour and then wish you hadn’t read it so quickly, but happily, you can start it all over again! Definitely one of my top ten books of 2020.  I loved this: “‪Make the world bigger by your being in it. … the way you pour yourself out into the world to quench another’s thirst, the way you exist and the way you persist.” Words to live by.” – The Minerva Reader

Dirty Birds is an absurd novel about absurd subcultures of artists, grad students, and adultescents that author Morgan Murray explores with both laugh-out-loud lunacy and scathing insight.” – Ian Rogers, Shrapnel Magazine

Dirty Birds is a whip-smart, structurally coherent romp that dresses its satire in the weeds of comic mayhem.” – Richard Cumyn, The Fiddlehead

“The narrative voice in Dirty Birds reminds me a bit of the dry comic you find reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only this unfortunate protagonist, named Milton Ontario, (not to be confused with Milton, Ontario) journeys from Bellybutton, Saskatchewan to live in a dirty closet he found on Craigslist – dans le metropolis of Montreal… All so he can be a poet like his hero, Leonard Cohen. Morgan Murray fills his pages with dialogue spoken in hilarious Canadian vernacular, something that so rarely meets the page in popular fiction, interspersed with his own black and white illustrations, and the most epic footnotes detailing facts from Canada’s history the way you wish you had heard them in high school.” – More Books Than Days

Dirty Birds: one of the funniest things I’ve read since I took home my grade 4 report card.” – D.R. The Book Guy, Ltd. Radio

“It’s good, but do you have to swear so much?” – Morgan’s Mom

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