The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski

The Painted Bird

By John Saleeby
August 1, 2011


"My Terror was such that it nearly transported me to the other World."

"The Painted Bird" is such an Acid Logic kind of book it's a damn shame that Jerzy Kosinski committed Suicide before he could do any Writing for us. Not only does this book contain detailed descriptions of a guy getting eaten alive by an abandoned army bunker full of rats, an Altar Boy being thrown into a cesspool full of human feces by an outraged congregation, and two little boys derailing a train full of innocent people just for kicks, but it also climaxes with an entire Village getting gang raped by a bunch of blood crazed maniacs on horseback. Yeah, these guys are such skillful rapists they can rape while on horseback. And when they get tired of that they rape their horses. And then each other. It's The Final Days of the Second World War in Eastern Europe, a Young Boy was there to tell us what it was really like and it ain't "The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn", Motherfucker. There's other stuff but I don't want to discourage you from reading the book. Discourage you from reading the book? If I told you about some of the other stuff it would discourage you from leaving your room for the rest of your Life. The only atrocity missing in this book is Cannibalism. Is it kind of creepy that I noticed that? Maybe this article could use a little Cannibalism. It's not creepy of me to suggest that, is it? The Kid makes it alive to The End of the book but not even Anne Frank would envy him. But maybe you might not want to read "The Painted Bird". Maybe you're one of those "World War Z" or "The Stand" people who prefer to read about Mankind's descent into Savagery through some sort of "Supernatural" means. Hell, in "The Painted Bird" Mankind doesn't even "descend" into Savagery - We're all there from the very beginning and that's where we will always be. Or maybe I've been watching too much of Nancy Grace on CNN lately, I dunno.

"The Painted Bird" is the result of Jerzey Kosinski's childhood wandering around the Eastern European country side during the Nineteen Forties with no one to care for him but a New York Literary Agent with great connections. The Book was a great success and Kosinski became that most wretched of Human Specimens, The New York High Society Douchebag. He Married an Heiress but when she died he didn't get any money so he immediately Married another Heiress. That's the kind of hard headed determination it took to survive as a homeless child in Eastern Europe during World War Two! And his Writing went to Hell although, with "The Painted Bird", you can say that it started there. What else did he Write? "Being There", the story of a man who rises to the very pinnacle of American Success on account of being an empty ended imbecile, is pretty good but you've already seen "Forrest Gump" and now that Jay Leno is hosting "The Tonight Show" reading "Being There" will make you give up on the Heiresses. "Being There" is almost as well known as "The Painted Bird" but only because of the Hal Ashby Movie version starring Peter Sellers. Have you seen it? Well, come over to my apartment with some pot and I'll reenact the whole thing for you. No, no, no, no, don't rent the DVD, just come over with some pot and I'll act out all the characters and scenes for you, Saleeby Style! Goddammit, Hal Ashby doesn't need any pot, he's dead! Me, I just read and reread "The Painted Bird" to Write this article and if I don't get high RIGHT NOW I'm going to kill myself. What else did Kosinski write? Oh, a lot of crap. What the hell else are you going to get out of a Writer once he becomes a New York High Society Douchebag? There's a reason we all stopped paying attention to Woody Allen, you know. I wonder if either one of Jerzy Kosinski's Heiresses' had a hot little Vietnamese Step Daughter? I don't care how much money she has, if a New York High Society Bitch doesn't have a hot little Vietnamese Step Daughter I'm not giving her the time of day! Hey, do you know Woody Allen's favorite sexual position? SIXTY NGUYEN!!! HAW HAW HAW!!!

But I didn't have to tell you anything about guys getting eaten by rats or little kids getting thrown into cesspools to have you hiding underneath the bed until Holiday Season - Just talking to Healthy Human Beings about Eastern Europe is enough to get them packing up for a nicer place like Cambodia or Somalia. Eastern Europe is so depressing that there is just no way in Hell this sentence will end with an amusing little punchline. NO WAY AM I EVER GOING THERE! Ain't it bad enough that I grew up in New Orleans and currently reside in Mississippi? I'd go to California, Land Of Eternal Sunshine And Beautiful Women, but every time I come within ten feet of a Palm Tree it dies, falls on people, and I'm stuck with getting rid of the bodies. Eastern Europe is so creepy that in The Old Days they made up a fictional name for it - TRANNSYLVANIA!! "Ooohh, don't be scared!!" they used to tell us when we were little kids "There's no such place as Trannsylvania! They just made it up for the Movies!" Then we sent troops to some place called Bosnia and they were in Hand To Hump Combat with Armies of Grave Robbing Hunchbacks trying to steal their brains to put into the Heads of Child Abusers stitched together out of parts of eleven different Dead People. I'M NOT GOING TO EASTERN EUROPE!!! Even the Pornography from over there depresses me! When I was a kid I'd look at the girls in Playboy and think "Yeah, but you gotta make a ton of money and drive a flashy car to get a girl like that." With Eastern European Porn I look at the girls on the Internet and think "Yeah, but you gotta burn her Parent's farmhouse down and hold an AK 47 to her head to get a girl like that." I had a Eastern European Mail Order Bride, I thought "Tranny" meant I had to pay the Transportation Costs to get her into the States. I seem to have wandered into a weird area here but in Eastern Europe there's no where else to go.

And Kosinski don't waste no time trying to make the place sound nice for the Tourists, either. "The Painted Bird" begins with a description of the land it is set in so brutally honest it reminded me of Roger Ebert's review of the latest Adam Sandler Movie - Only with the Holcaust instead of that creepy Nick Swardson guy. That's about the one break The Kid in "The Painted Bird" (We never find out his name, that's where Sergio Leone got the idea for The Man With No Name. If Clint Eastwood had been through a childhood like this he might have an excuse for being such a prick) gets - He doesn't wind up in a Concentration Camp. Kosinski makes it perfectly clear that The Kid, all of the people in the book, and all of the people in Eastern Europe at the time are entirely aware of every thing that the Nazis are up to with their trains full of Jewish people and Concentration Camps. Even more controversial, not only do they know about The Final Solution - They have no particular problem with it. This put Kosinski in quite a dangerous spot for the rest of his Life which, after my Acid Logic article about the "Charlie's Angels" Movie, is something I can entirely relate. Eastern Europe since the Second World War is full of people who want the World to believe that no one but the Nazis had any idea about The Holocaust and "The Painted Bird" is such a courageous Statement it almost takes all the Fun out of all the Child Abuse, Gang Rape, and Guys Getting Eaten By Rats - ALMOST!

And, Hey, I'm no Adolph Eichman when it comes to admitting that I've fucked up - I smoked all my Crack while watching Tom And Jerry this Morning and I don't have any funny jokes about when those Krazy Katzenjammers ride into that Village at The End and rape everybody. Sorry! So, if you want gags about dozens of little kids, women, and a few men unfortunate enough to be in costume for an amateur Production of "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum" when the Horny Horsemen showed up, read "The Painted Bird" yourself and then show us what a Funny Motherfucker YOU are! Yeah! The Acid Logic "Village Gang Rape" Humor Writing Competition! Send in your entry and the guy who scares everybody the worst will have the FBI come to his house with a dart gun full of Thorazine.

Oh, before I go, here's a little sample of what you will be in for once you start reading "The Painted Bird" -

The eyeballs lay on the floor. I walked around them, catching their steady stare. The cats timidly moved out into the middle of the room and began to play with the eyes as if they were balls of thread. Their own eyes narrowed to slights from the light of the oil lamp. The cats rolled the eyes around, sniffed them, licked them, and passed them to one another gently with their padded paws. It seemed now that the eyes were staring at me from every corner of the room, as they had acquired a new life and motion of their own.
You probably shouldn't read it.



John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email -

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