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A Convergence of Birds: Original Fiction and Poetry Inspired by Joseph Cornell
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A Convergence of Birds: Original Fiction and Poetry Inspired by Joseph Cornell

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  347 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Jonathan Safran Foer, acclaimed young author of "Everything is Illuminated," fell in love with the work of Joseph Cornell while still a student at Princeton University and embarked on an ambitious project: to interest some of America's best-known writers to create original fiction and poetry inspired by the boxed collages of this beloved artist. Beautifully designed and pr ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published June 2nd 2001 by Distributed Art Publishers (DAP) (first published 2001)
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Sep 05, 2008 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-adult
Most of this book I didn't like. Why, then, the four stars? Well, two of the stories in here are so good that I would pay the purchase price of this book just to read them a single time. But then, would we buy anthologies if books were nickelodeons and bookstores arcades?
But the stories, worth their weight in parakeets:
Jonathan Safran Foer's "If the Aging Magician Should Begin to Believe", and
Robert Coover's "Grand Hotels"

I won't say any more about them, lest I spoil the surprise, but if you end
Apr 07, 2015 Sal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was going to give this collection a 3-star rating, but certain stories jump out at you and stick in your mind long after reading like echoes pulsating through a deep cave.

Cornell's art is incredible to look it, and the brief biography JSF provides is enough to tell you all you need to know to help inform your reading. If you're going to explore this anthology, be sure to read the biographical note first, as the information can help inform your reading.

One thing that's apparent is Jonathan Safr
JJ Aitken
Jul 30, 2014 JJ Aitken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Original Fiction and Poetry Inspired by the Work of Joseph Cornell.
This is quite simply one of those very special gems that only come along ever so often. It is a truly magical anthology of highly accomplished and stunningly inventive authors that have now given me a resource of new books to last me years. Even though the entire book is complete in its surprise and brilliance. If a flood were to appear and ruin all but the fourteen pages of The Grand Hotel by Robert Coover, I could still be cont
Jellie Dawn
Oct 21, 2013 Jellie Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jellie Dawn by: Rozette Diaz
Reading this book was a new experience for me. I love poetry but I can't write a single poem to save my life so I have held such high regard for proficient poets from the very first time I read a poem in my early formative years. The prose and poetry inspired by the work of Joseph Cornell is just so lush with wonderful images and vivid stories. Reading this novel felt a lot like how I felt watching Hugo. Just bearing witness to history beneath your eyes and feeling the words on your mouth is jus ...more
The main attractions of "A Convergence of Birds" are the reproductions of Joseph Cornell's bird boxes. The work inspired by the boxes is, as could probably be expected, uneven, and mostly unmemorable.

Capturing the spirit of Cornell, Joanna Scott's "Slide Show" was a delight. Also asking to be read again were the poems "Construction" (John Burhardt), "Magic Musee" (Martine Bellen), and "Birds of a Feather" (Diane Ackerman), and the stories "Emory Bird Hands' Birds" (Barry Lopez), "The Appearance
Some really strong pieces and some very disappointing ones. Interesting, in general (but not in every case) the bigger the name, the less good the piece. I will be keeping this book though, to have the plates of the Joseph Cornell boxes. And the pieces I thought particularly good were by: Howard Norman, Paul West, Robert Coover, Dale West and the editor. Some of my favorite writers have pieces in this volume that I thought fell particularly flat. Sigh. But there was a lot of playing around with ...more
Lori Koshork
Sep 08, 2010 Lori Koshork rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Didn't read the fine print that this was a collection of works by other writers and all short stories that Foer collected. He wrote one himself that I read part way through but not with the same delight that I've read his novels. As a matter of personal preference, I prefer longer novels to short stories and poetry. After about 10 stories, I decided I would bring it back to the library. In my opinion the best part was the color image of Cornell boxes at the beginning of each story.
Jun 06, 2011 Ashy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Could not see the images of cornell's boxes, as read this on my kindle, which was a shame. I really liked the idea of this book and the first story got me excited to read more. Unfortunately much of what was to come was a disappointment to me and I even skimmed parts which is rare for me. Some I found boring and some poetry I had no idea what it was about and not in an intriguing way! Safran Foer's piece was good, I just wish it was all so good as the start and finish...
Joshua Weichhand
I admit my attraction to this book was rooted, not in any affinity towards Cornell's art, but more so a compulsive need to absorb any and all things Jonathan Safran Foer. Regardless the motivation, in the end this was a beautiful collection of poetry and short stories with the inclusion of Cornell's art as inspiration for the pieces being equally inviting.

Not a bad compilation for a college student with no experience in publishing. It's quite a bar to set.
Jan 10, 2011 Kat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful book, and beautiful, novel idea for a book. The poetry ranges from "out there", to boring, to inspiring. The artwork ranges from amazing to inspiring and back to amazing (but you know that already - that's why this book was dedicated to the artwork and artist). I borrowed it from the library but plan on buying is soon - would make a welcomed additional to my personal library. The kind of book you can pick up and read and ogle on any day.
Nov 13, 2007 Summer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The edition that I own of this book is probably the most aesthetically pleasing, valuable, and treasured object I own besides personal keepsakes. It is signed by all of the contributing authors and there are color plates of the artwork. I look at it and I feel like a millionaire.

Foer collected some fine stories inspired by an amazing artist. It's well worth reading and feeling and looking at.
Mar 29, 2008 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book on recommendation from a fellow passenger on the El who seemed enlightened about such matters, and seemed knowledgeable about other worldly things of interest. Not the best recommendation I've ever gotten. I didn't find this book all that interesting, although it was beautifully produced,a nd the story behind the bird boxes was good.
Sep 26, 2008 Hh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The writings didn't hold my attention at all (and I skipped most of it, after reading the first page of each different author). Mostly disappointing because I love Jonathan Safran Foer's stuff so much, and thought this would be more of the same --I didn't realize until I got it today that he was merely the editor rather than The Author.
Jul 21, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this a four because I really REALLY like Joseph Cornell. The book is put together beautifully, and of course Cornell's art stands out because of how awesome it is. Some of the fiction and poetry is good, although some of it is not really my cup of tea. I mostly looked at the pictures, honestly. The pretty pretty pictures.
Apr 22, 2011 Becca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am giving two stars because of the amazing concept of the book (writing inspired by the work of Joseph Cornell) and some of the imagery from the writing. Otherwise the writing was over my head in "creativity" or abstractness. it took me years to be able to get through the whole book (consistently stopping and starting of course).
Nov 10, 2009 Kristen rated it it was ok
It is sad, but I did not love this. It was so beautifully presented, with prints of Cornell's bird boxes for each story and Safran Foer makes me so excited because I've loved him so much. His story at the end was amazing, but a lot of the rest were so surreal that I couldn't get into them. Some of the poetry was nice though.
Alison Smith
A beautifully produced book; one of my sale bargains. I didn't enjoy the poetry - too obscure for my plebian taste - but I did enjoy some of the prose pieces by Joanna Scott (at last - some humour!) Robert Coovber's wildly inventive piece - would like to read more of his wor; and then Lydia Davis - weird, but interesting.
Jun 26, 2012 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A huge fan of Cornell, there were maybe five written pieces that really resonated with me in this collection, Jonathan Safran Foer's being one of them. However, there are quite a few lovely color photos of boxes I had not seen and it did artistically inspire, if only because it got me thinking about the artwork.
Sep 15, 2009 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Other reviewers have captured my own ambivalence about this collection. It left me melancholic and suspended in unease: suitable for Joseph Cornell's boxes, which are, themselves, cool and beautiful and ambiguous. The accompanying plates of Cornell's boxes are gorgeous and worth the time and effort by themselves.
Feb 28, 2009 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a collection of writings based on the art of Joseph Cornell, an eccentric and obsessive artist who I can't help but see as a hero aside from the fact that he lived with his mother for most of his life. Someone who resented "growing up", and sort of never did. Or at least did his best at resisting.
Feb 11, 2010 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i love concept books! j. s. foer brought this book of short stories and poems t/g - all inspired/centered around joseph cornell's collages/boxes. do i love every piece in it - nope, but i like that these stories make me think from a different angle and are not linear.
Jan 04, 2008 Megan rated it did not like it
I've only read a few of these stories... and they've all been horrible. It's kind of a sad travesty of a tribute to one of my favorite artists. I was going to give them another try someday... someday perhaps far from now.
Hannah Strom
Dec 09, 2011 Hannah Strom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of these stories i didn't like but "Emory Bear Hands' Birds" by Barry Lopez and Jonathan Safran Foer's idea behind the book and short story "If the Aging Magician Should Begin to Believe" i loved.
Feb 12, 2008 Ruth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this because of the convergence of two of my favorite things, Joseph Cornell and poetry. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was sorely disappointed. I found it dry and spiritless.
Dec 28, 2007 Mia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

only a couple of the works in this collection really caught my attention but, if you like cornell's art, this book is worth getting for the brilliant quality of the photographs alone...
Feb 01, 2009 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Foer edited this. The best part about this book is the letter that he received from one writer explaining that he would not submit a piece of work for publication. It's funny.
Sep 20, 2010 Caitlin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A lesser book than Everything is Illuminated. Foer, who is a member of the Brooklyn cabal is one of the most original novelists within (and outside NYC).
Feb 25, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joseph Cornell is one of my favorite artists and when I found this sweet little book of people writing stories in reference to his art I swooned.
Aug 15, 2007 carmie rated it really liked it
I found this book to be very enjoyable. I love anthologies and collections of all kinds, and an arty tribute to Joseph Cornell fits the ticket.
Khat Fish
Apr 17, 2012 Khat Fish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the stories were fantastic, some were great, some were "wtf?!" but ALL the pictures are amazing! I'm a Joseph Cornell fangirl though...
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Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of two bestselling, award-winning novels, Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and a bestselling work of nonfiction, Eating Animals. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
More about Jonathan Safran Foer...

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“Make for yourself a world you can believe in.
It sounds simple, I know. But it’s not. Listen, there are a million worlds you could make for yourself. Everyone you know has a completely different one—the woman in 5G, that cab driver over there, you. Sure, there are overlaps, but only in the details. Some people make their worlds around what they think reality is like. They convince themselves that they had nothing to do with their worlds’ creations or continuations. Some make their worlds without knowing it. Their universes are just sesame seeds and three-day weekends and dial tones and skinned knees and physics and driftwood and emerald earrings and books dropped in bathtubs and holes in guitars and plastic and empathy and hardwood and heavy water and high black stockings and the history of the Vikings and brass and obsolescence and burnt hair and collapsed souffles and the impossibility of not falling in love in an art museum with the person standing next to you looking at the same painting and all the other things that just happen and are. But you want to make for yourself a world that is deliberately and meticulously personalized. A theater for your life, if I could put it like that. Don’t live an accident. Don’t call a knife a knife. Live a life that has never been lived before, in which everything you experience is yours and only yours. Make accidents on purpose. Call a knife a name by which only you will recognize it. Now I’m not a very smart man, but I’m not a dumb one, either. So listen: If you can manage what I’ve told you, as I was never able to, you will give your life meaning.”
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