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Birds of America: Stories (1998)

by Lorrie Moore

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2,154395,046 (3.98)81
A long-awaited collection of stories--twelve in all--by one of the most exciting writers at work today, the acclaimed author of Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and Self-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 America unfolds 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...… (more)

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» See also 81 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
"Willing" (1998): 8.25
- Seems in some sense to be an inverted "Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story," in which now the obviously "better" woman dates "below" herself on account of some inexplicable dissatisfaction, some longing for self-abnegation, oblivion. Unlike Banks, however, Moore deepens our understanding of that aimlessness, filling in intriguingly our backstory of the disappointed and aging actress, too over LA and too above Chicago. Unfortunately that's the most interesting part and nonetheless the lesser dealt with, as Walter's basically a dud, even as (or especially as) someone supposed to be one. Did have some appealing lightness and perceptiveness in the prose, complemented by humor (the pumpkin reminding her of a basketball and the "big game"), although this gets a bit muddy when drug through the longue-duree trajectory of their relationship.
  Ebenmaessiger | Oct 10, 2019 |
I was bored. I finally realized I was skipping whole paragraphs just to get to the end of each short story decided to stop reading then and there. Nothing seems to happen. People are sad and think about their sadness. Yawn. ( )
  carliwi | Sep 23, 2019 |
Lorrie Moore's short story collection "Birds of America" is generally pretty strong. There were a few weak stories, but even the stories I didn't like as much had interesting bits in them. Frankly, this was totally worth a read for Moore's metaphor indicating that love is raccoons in a chimney -- which is delightful, garish, absurd and accurate -- all that love should be. That metaphor will likely stick with me for a long time.

I find Moore to be a clever writer, and I appreciated her cleverness much more in these short stories than I did in her longer work. ( )
  amerynth | May 2, 2019 |
Yet another book beloved by many, but not by me. I only read 3 stories, but they were dull and didn't inspire me to read any more. Domestic fiction/relationships just aren't my reading thing, I guess. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Some stories are awesome, others are lackluster…but some are awesome...
Like this one
( )
  iSatyajeet | Nov 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
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This book is for my sister and for my parents and for Benjamin
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In her last picture, the camera had lingered at the hip, the naked hip, and even though it wasn't her hip, she acquired a reputation for being willing.
Quotations
The stages of bereavement: anger, denial, bargaining, Haagen-Dazs, rage. (four calling birds, three french hens)
"Life is a long journey across a wide country," he said. "Sometimes the weather's good. Sometimes it's bad. Sometimes it's so bad, your car goes off the road." (four calling birds, three french hens)
"It's a myth, the high suicide rates around Christmas. It's the homicide rate that's high. Holiday homicide. All that time the family suddenly gets to spend together, and then bam, that eggnog." (four calling birds, three french hens)
"He had limited notes to communicate his needs," she said. "He had his 'food' mew, and I'd follow him to his dish. He had his 'out' mew, and I'd follow him to the door. He had his 'brush' mew, and I'd go with him to the cupboard where his brush was kept. And then he had his existential mew, where I'd follow him vaguely around the house as he wandered in and out of rooms, not knowing exactly what or why." (four calling birds, three french hens)
What was Christmas if not a giant mixed metaphor? What was it about if not the mysteries of interspecies love--God's for man! Love had sought a chasm to leap across and landed itself right here: the Holy Ghost among the barn animals, the teacher's pet sent to be adored and then to die. (four calling birds, three french hens)
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