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Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,839 ratings  ·  278 reviews
From Lauren Groff, author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling novel The Monsters of Templeton, comes Delicate Edible Birds, one of the most striking short fiction debuts in recent years.
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Best Book Cover 2009
70th out of 315 books — 3,039 voters
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For Bitches who hate to read
3rd out of 27 books — 19 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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i dont usually like stories (i think a few of my reviews start out this way - ha) but i love the way this lady writes. i was hoping after the first story that they would all take place in the same town as monsters of templeton, but no luck. theres one story i definitely need to reread, but i have a feeling i will be picking this up in the future to reread all the way through.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
4.5 stars

A lot of short stories consist of 10-20 pages of foreplay followed by a big cow flop of a denouement, with nary a climax in sight. Some don't even bother with a denouement, they just end abruptly, leaving the reader with the literary equivalent of lover's nuts. I have given up on many and many a short story collection for this reason.

Happily, Lauren Groff is no tease. Her stories are thoroughly satisfying. She takes a little longer, 30-40 pages per story, and develops a complete pictur
3 and 1/2 stars

Because I enjoyed her first novel The Monsters Of Templeton, I thought I'd like this collection more than I did. While I don't think any of the stories are derivative, they seemed familiar as separate stories reminded me of Alice Munro and Amy Bloom (in theme if not style) and even Julie Otsuka (in style if not theme).

The plots are interesting, some even inventive, though the beauties of language and character development vary from story to story. The ending of the story "Watersh

4.5 stars

The acquisition of my second-favorite short story collection this year with the word "birds" in the title (!) was a decidedly bittersweet experience. I had already made acquaintance with Ms. Groff's work with her lovely, swirly, slightly out-of-focus novel of communal life in upstate New York, Arcadia, and (despite her eschewing quotation marks, a pet peeve of mine) wanted to read more from her. The very last place I'd expect books with the caliber of Ms. Groff's talent: the Dollar Tree
Sometimes when no novel is keeping my attention I turn to my first love in reading which is the short story. When done right, a short story is magical, better than any full length read. Yet again I found a perfect short story, it's the first one I read called "L.DeBard and Aliette" and it was outstanding, mesmerizing and gave me chills thoughout and lleft me sobbing at the end. I fully recommend this collection to everyone based on this story alone. I hope Emily picks up this collection, even if ...more
Rated Three-Point-Five Delicate, Edible Stars! (I rounded up because that is how I roll.)
If there is one recurring theme in this book, and as suggested by its lovely and yet dark title, that theme might be the sexual power/vulnerability of women, especially younger women. The theme is subtle, not executed in an overwrought way, but fortunately its presence is strong enough to help link together the long and quite varied (especially in terms of setting) stories in this collection. This is importa
Ally Armistead
"Delicate Edible Birds" is one of the most enjoyable short story collections I've read in years. Lyrical, beautiful, haunting, it is one of those books whose language alone makes you slow down and savor every morsel.

The stories themselves are beautiful, too, each following the arc of female protagonists in the twentieth century. The women themselves are the "delicate edible birds" to which the title refers; the medieval ages metaphor of "byrd" (as bride, as maiden) is used to explore the vulner
Linda Robinson
The war in my head reading this collection was waged between the remarkable prose and its excellent arrangement and the idea of women as delicate edible birds. The words-arranged with architectural artistry as the tree to support the avian protagonists-are marvels; soaring, ephemeral and gently waving in the breeze. But that breeze! Under the words, under the trees, in the dirt and mud is the dichotomy of mother/wife/community member and raving, raw artisan- the wind stirred by this inner strugg ...more
These stories were all so different from each other, yet they all seemed to have an underpinning quality of sadness to them. These are among the best short stories I have read in a while.
A hospice client of mine, Alice, was at the end of her life. Normally chatty, she was quiet. I was holding her hand and asking her if there was anything she wanted me to read to her. She said, "Tell me. The stories. That I. Told you." So of course, I did. Stories of her childhood, her marriage, her son, all of it. She let me know if I missed a detail or got something wrong, shaking her head, no. It's what we are measured by, what we leave behind, our stories. Alice taught me that.

Lauren Groff un
I don't usually read short story collections, but Arcadia was so beautifully written, I decided to give this one a try. It killed me. So beautiful and many of them so sad. Wow. Wow. Wow.

Usually I plow through books, gorging myself, because I'm a book glutton. But with this book, I took my time, savoring one story per night, fully immersing myself in each world Groff created.

My favorites are "L. Debard and Aliette," "Majorette," "Blythe," and the final title story which just gutted me.
Superstition Review
“And it is a happy ending, perhaps, in the way that myths and fairy tales have happy endings; only if one forgets the bloody, dark middles…I like to think it’s a happy ending, though it is the middle that haunts me.” – Lucky Chow Fun

After finishing Lauren Groff’s Delicate Edible Birds, I realized that all of her narrators don’t know what they want. Often, they never attain it, and they lose a large part of themselves. They seek happiness, clarity, or love. They yearn for all of the right pieces
Not everyone likes short stories. Not even all library students! But to me, a short story can be a beautiful tale, despite its brevity. When well-crafted, they can encapsulate deep truths, within a few pages. I found this to be true within "Delicate Edible Birds," the inaugural collection of short stories by author Lauren Groff, more famously known for her 2008 novel, "The Monsters of Templeton." Groff's nine stories are beautifully told; each very unique; and overall, a tribute to the intricaci ...more
Rijula D
How does she do it!
The writing is amazing, with a strange haunting quality to. Lines that you stop to read again and again before proceeding to the next one. And something like a culmination of the haunting language stays with you even after the stories are done, popping its head from time to time as you do other things.
Most of the stories are about women. Yet Groff's feminism is not heavy handed, political, but an exploration. Though I'd have wished that they were not all about women, and what
Emily Crow
Groff is a good writer, and overall this was a solid, enjoyable collection of stories. She aims quite high here, and almost makes it.

I liked "Lucky Chow Fun" and "Delicate Edible Birds" best. Both stories looked at loss of innocence and its ramifications, one in a small, provincial town, and the other a decision that a woman fleeing a war zone with fellow journalists must make. "Sir Fleeting" and "Watershed" were also quite well done...the latter, especially, was beautifully written.

"The Wife of
I don't know what it is about short fiction that makes authors think it has to be dark or bleak or at least flat. For some reason there seems to be this belief that it's okay for a novel to be enjoyable, or pleasant and happy; it's okay for the characters in a novel to be people the reader actually likes and cares about, but in a short story, you have so little time to make it mean something, you have to be "experimental." I loved Lauren Groff's novel, The Monsters of Templeton. She dabbled in t ...more
I love short stories...and I wonder why I don't read them more often.

The author is simply so talented. She weaves independent stories, some of which are still traveling with me in my mind. They are so rich, detailed and unique. I found myself truly slipping into the worlds of the story and finding myself a character.

I picked this up because her "Fates and Furies" has a waiting list at the library. And I heard that's one of the best books some folks have read in a long time...

Becky Stout
I rarely write anything about books I have read but these short stories just knocked my socks off! This is a young woman who can write about any era and who can create characters who stand out from the first moment. Her use of language is absolutely incredible. I haven't read the Monsters of Templeton but will put that on my list. Her Fates and Furies has been nominated for the National Book Award, I believe. One of the most creative writers I have come across in a long time. And she isn't even ...more
I love reading collections of short stories because I feel it can really show the breadth of an author’s ability. This collection overall is a little dreary (as most short fiction tends to be), but overall Groff definitely pulls off many varying perspectives and creates stories that are definitely memorable. My favorite short fiction is that which can deliver an emotional blow to the reader (seriously, how did you get me to cry in 20 pages?) and a few of these stories definitely do that. The res ...more
Marjorie Elwood
A friend (who is an avid reader) and I were talking recently and she said that she doesn't bother with books with unpleasant characters because "if I'm going to spend a couple of hours with a book, I want the characters to be likeable." I couldn't stop thinking about that comment as I read this book, which is populated with unpleasant people. That, and: if you're supposed to write about what you know, then the author has a really messed-up relationship with sex.... Aside from that, the author wr ...more
Groff has a gift for writing short stories. I usually read a short story collection so I can put it down after each one but this one, I raced on, anxious to read the next and the next. I can't say that I loved every one but the writing made each one worth reading. Here is one of my favorite lines: "When she unwrapped her daughter for the first time, she touched the tender folds of the baby's body, the warm little tires of her neck and lips and eyelids and kneepits. And she, the new mother of a d ...more
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
As with most collections of short stories, not every story in this book hits it out of the ballpark, but Lauren Groff's gifts for writing and imagination are evident in all of them. Because I enjoyed her book "Arcadia" so much and realized from it that she writes beautifully, leaving lasting images that pop up long after the book is finished, I decided to read this short story collection. I was not disappointed.

I particularly enjoyed the stories "L. DeBard and Aliette", "Blythe", "Watershed", an
I've been intrigued by the reviews of The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, so when I saw this collection of short stories I snapped it up immediately. And I'm glad that I did. This collection of nine stories is uneven, but when they work, they sing. While the settings and the subjects of the stories differ widely, there are some unifying themes. Images of water and fire infuse these stories. And the stories present a series of young girls who are forced to lose their childhood illusions. Y ...more
I recently read a quote from Lauren Groff stating that her goal as a writer was to make her stories so fantastic that they would blind her readers. Though I can still see enough to type this review, I do believe I experienced some momentary flashes of incapacitating perceptive whiteness in the process of reading these stories. It was as though my eyes turned off for a second and a mesmerizing projector splashed her ideas across the inside of my skull with all of their chaos and splendor. FRIENDS ...more
Collections of short stories are often disappointing in that only one or two of the stories are really spot on, the rest half-baked tales that wouldn't make it into a novel, but this is an incredibly strong series, mostly revolving around themes of self-worth and rushed relationships.

There are many, many paragraphs that were worth re-reading to let them sink in, but there are a couple that stuck out to me:

"I considered owning this thing, his pride. I thought of reducing those many years to a tra
Matt Sadorf
I read Lauren Groff's first book, The Monsters of Templeton, when it first came out and absolutely loved it, but then I let myself lose track of her for some reason. At some point in the last year she popped back into my head, and I figured I should look her up on Amazon immediately so that I could know what she had been up to.

Through that search I learned that she has a book coming out on the fifteenth of this month, and I also learned that she had two other books already published. Well, I im
I loved this book; at times the stories felt like the ebb and flow of water, pulling in and then pushing back all at the same time.
Delicate Edible Birds is a collection of nine short stories that deal with the intimate details of women's lives in the face of adversity. They are all told by woman who are at different stages, ages, and stations in their lives. I listed to this book on audio and the reader has a superb voice and was a perfect match for the stories.
when i started this collection of short stories - well i wasn't moved, too much at all. by the third story, "majorette," i was hooked. discarded my family for the day and read the rest of the book. each short story is a mini novel. fully developed stories that suck you in and complete themselves - no shoddy wrap up endings - real stories with real developed characters and story lines. "blythe" was a devine read, stole the show.
Rachel Watkins
really enjoyed this. i get frustrated reading short stories (b/c if they're GOOD, i want them to be longer!) and these were the perfect length, well-developed, too a few sittings to read each.... highly recommend this collection....
Listened to this on a car ride. The narrators of all these short stories all seemed to be variances of the same character... a personality-less educated WASPy woman of means who defines herself by whichever person she attaches herself to. The stories are meandering and seem more like attempted novel treatments rather than good, tight tales with a point. There were a few laughable moments where a "real person with a job" is attempted to be portrayed, such as someone who has a career as a "childre ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff 2 19 Mar 23, 2015 02:13PM  
Author reading! 1 20 Jan 24, 2009 05:07PM  
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Lauren Groff was born in Cooperstown, N.Y. and grew up one block from the Baseball Hall of Fame. She graduated from Amherst College and has an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Hobart, and Five Points as well as in the anthologies Best Amer
More about Lauren Groff...

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“Depressing thought: my friends were the girls I ate lunch with, all buddies from kindergarten who knew one another so well we weren't sure if we even liked one another anymore.” 20 likes
“And she, the new mother of a daughter, felt a fierceness come over her that seized at her heart, that made her feel as if her bones were turned to steel, as if she could turn herself into a weapon to keep this daughter of hers from having to be hurt by the world outside the ring of her arms.” 9 likes
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