Birds of America

Birds of America

Book - 1998
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A long-awaited collection of stories--twelve in all--by one of the most exciting writers at work today, the acclaimed author ofWho Will Run the Frog Hospital'andSelf-Help.Stories remarkable in their range, emotional force, and dark laughter, and in the sheer beauty and power of their language.         From the opening story, "Willing"--about a second-rate movie actress in her thirties who has moved back to Chicago, where she makes a seedy motel room her home and becomes involved with a mechanic who has not the least idea of who she is as a human being--Birds of Americaunfolds a startlingly brilliant series of portraits of the unhinged, the lost, the unsettled of our America.         In the story "Which Is More Than I Can Say About Some People" ("There is nothing as complex in the world--no flower or stone--as a single hello from a human being"), a woman newly separated from her husband is on a long-planned trip through Ireland with her mother. When they set out on an expedition to kiss the Blarney Stone, the image of wisdom and success that her mother has always put forth slips away to reveal the panicky woman she really is.         In "Charades," a family game at Christmas is transformed into a hilarious and insightful (and fundamentally upsetting) revelation of crumbling family ties.         In "Community Life,"a shy, almost reclusive, librarian, Transylvania-born and Vermont-bred, moves in with her boyfriend, the local anarchist in a small university town, and all hell breaks loose. And in "Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens," a woman who goes through the stages of grief as she mourns the death of her cat (Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Häagen Dazs, Rage) is seen by her friends as really mourning other issues: the impending death of her parents, the son she never had, Bosnia.         In what may be her most stunning book yet, Lorrie Moore explores the personal and the universal, the idiosyncratic and the mundane, with all the wit, brio, and verve that have made her one of the best storytellers of our time.
Publisher: New York : A. Knopf, 1998
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780679445975
0679445978
9780312241223
0312241224
Branch Call Number: MOORE
Characteristics: 291 p

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WVMLStaffPicks Nov 13, 2014

In one of her stories the protagonist says that he believes that a person is a collection of accidents. In these dark stories there is a quirky, off-the-cuff kind of sensibility that seems accidental. However, her painfully acute eye for the emotional force that drives people’s lives gives us a series of brilliant portraits of the unhinged, the lost, the unsettled of America.

l
LaRoyal
Aug 25, 2013

In complete agreement with ksoles, this is an amazing collection by an author who deserves wider exposure. I would like to add that her imagery describing mental and emotional states are startlingly right on and sometimes downright coffee-spitting funny. Dark, yes... many shades of dark. Incisive yet compassionate. I will be reading more of this wonderful author's work.

u
uncommonreader
Jul 27, 2012

Twelve short stories in a New Yorker style. Some are about illnesses.

ksoles May 19, 2011

There's nothing I enjoy reading more than an exceptional short story collection so, when a friend, writer, and fellow short story lover recommended Lorrie Moore's Birds of America, I rushed to put it on hold at the library. I had never heard of Moore before but, while she's not particularly "famous," I quickly discovered that she deserves much greater public attention. What struck me about her style was her ingenious blend of ironic humour and starkly human emotion. Her stories can seem light and even trivial on the surface but, when their meanings hit, they do so with tremendous force.

Moore uses exact and unadorned language; she brilliantly crafts her metaphors to capture emotions, culture and the subtleties of family dynamics. Her characters are deeply developed, relatable and yet totally unremarkable. They are the people you see in hotel lobbies, in grocery stores, in hospitals. They are us.

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