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Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  293 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Novelist, music journalist, and playwright Meno writes squarely in the American tradition of wringing large effects from small change, revealing the subtlety in the broad stroke and conveying complexity with seeming simplicity.
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published November 4th 2005 by Triquarterly
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Community Reviews

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This excellent collection was a nice follow-up for me to Stuart Dybek's stories, since they both tell tales of children in Chicago. Meno shares his predecessor's offbeat worldview, but injects more humor (see the one about Greek mythology camp)into the irrational world these authors depict as the young's inheritance. Bluebirds is not all about kids, but those are the most memorable to me, for example the boy who costumes himself from the contents of stolen Midway airport suitcases.
Jason Jordan
Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (TriQuarterly Books, 2005) is the best that Joe Meno has to offer. His previous novel, Hairstyles of the Damned (Punk Planet Books, 2004), was great. It's been reviewed for this website, and you can peruse the ARCHIVES for proof. Arguably, this collection of short stories upstages everything he's ever thrust into the public arena. For those of you who are financially strapped, though, this is a hardback book, so it follows that it's more expensive than its pa ...more
I enjoyed this collection of short stories. I like anything that Joe Meno writes. There's always this tinge of sadness that is conveyed in every story he writes. I tend to like that because there's an element of reality that I think a lot of authors avoid. Sometimes the stories are ridiculous, but the reality of the sadness is what makes them seem absolutely normal.

I think the sadness was harder to handle in this context because it was multiple stories where you didn't get to build up a good rel
Camille Chidsey
A little hard to rate as short stories often are. Parts of it I really liked and parts of it I thought were okay. I still really like Joe Meno though. His characters are always interesting. I would probably rate this a 3.5/5.
Maybe this is true with most short story collections and I never noticed, but it felt like I was watching tv, going around the world with the remote; or rather, going around the world at the mercy of someone else in control of the remote. I felt like I dropped in on these stories not necessarily at the beginning and then jump to the next one before much in the way of conclusion or resolution. Some were very good, others just seemed to be such a small snapshot of a life or situation that it just ...more
after reading the boy detective fails, i got on a bit of a joe meno kick.

i didn't like this collection of short stories as much as the other books i've read. they were really hit or miss for me, though the ones that hit really hit.

in the stories that do hit, his writing seems so effortless. so eloquent and breathlessly wonderful.

shorts i'm in love with: the use of medicine, our neck of the woods, a trip to greek mythology camp, be a good citizen, how to say good night.
A few of these stories are stellar, most of them are pretty average, and all of them are way too short. There's poor balance between stories and also a weird overuse of themes: nearly ever story has runaway parents, dysfunctional siblings, people who work in factories, sexy redheaded ladies, and lots and lots of loneliness.

I'm really glad I already love Meno a whole lot, because if this had been the first book of his I read I don't know if I'd have picked up more.
H R Koelling
Some interesting short stories. Also some that weren't so interesting. I thought some stories were a little self-absorbed and not very accessible to the average reader. Many of the characters in each story had similar hang-ups, thus making distinctions between the stories somewhat difficult.
Jeff Phillips
I enjoyed these stories. The collection feels like a really good rock album (in part because of the book design and Meno's periodic song mentions), some stories standing out more than others, but some subtle gems that grow on you as you think about them.
Apr 11, 2008 Jim added it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to keep a sense of ennui going
Shelves: fiction
I give this no stars. I didn't like it. I didn't hate it. It had no resonance for me at all. The stories in this book did nothing for me. They didn't make me think or feel; they just lay on the page.
My very favorite was the Astronaut of the Year story. I can recommend the book for that story alone. Most of the stories were a bit too dark for me at this point in my life.
A set of stories filled with melancholy and regret. Good stories, but sad. I prefer Demons in the Spring.
Really, really liked this. Original, inventive, very strong voice, which I always appreciate. And I loved all the mentions of Chicago, of course.
The stories are mostly good, sometimes not good, and occasionally extraordinary. Joe Meno is a surprising and sometimes sloppy writer.
Joe Meno is a notable humorous writer, and you might enjoy his collection of short stories titled, Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir.
the short stories were so good. i got so into them that i was bummed when they ended. heard really good reviews about meno as a writer
Phoebe Kate Foster
Outstanding collection of stories. A must-read for all writers of literary short fiction.
Beautifully written tiny little stories, all of which are equal parts tender and heartbreaking.
Marissa Garcia
"The Girls I Have Made Cry" haunts my every pore. As does most everything Joe writes.
Oct 20, 2014 Pete rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008, usa
I proclaim Joe Meno to be one of the best current Chicago writers.
The use of medicines is one of my favorite short stories ever.
Not one of Joe's best, it pains me to say.
Mar 08, 2010 Jenny rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: meno
Medicine never cures heartaches...
Jessie marked it as to-read
Apr 11, 2015
Josh marked it as to-read
Mar 25, 2015
Beth marked it as to-read
Mar 14, 2015
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Joe Meno is a fiction writer and playwright that lives in Chicago. A winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award and the Society of Midland Author's Fiction Prize, he is the author of four novels, The Boy Detective Fails (Akashic 2006), Hairstyles of the Damned (Akashic 2004), Tender as Hellfire (St. Martin's 1999), and How the Hula Girl Sings (HarperCollins 2001). His short story collection is Blu ...more
More about Joe Meno...
Hairstyles of the Damned The Boy Detective Fails Office Girl The Great Perhaps How the Hula Girl Sings

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