Scott Rhee's Reviews > Birds of America

Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
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's review
Jun 12, 12

bookshelves: short-stories
Read from May 21 to June 11, 2012

Lorrie Moore may be the best short story writer in America. She has the uncanny ability to find humor in tragedy and tragedy in humorous situations, without lessening the emotional impact of the story. In reading a Lorrie Moore story it is not uncommon to laugh out loud only seconds after reading a heart-rending scene that brings tears to your eyes. That is the joy of reading a Lorrie Moore story. "Birds in America" is a collection of short stories (published in 1998), which, like her previous collections "Like Life" and "Self Help", beautifully capture the wonderful moments of the every-day lives of average Americans. Most, if not all, of the characters in these stories are dealing with some kind of tragedy, big or small. In the story, "Willing", an aging actress deals with the loneliness of the Hollywood scene, as she realizes that she is no longer the hot commodity in films and, in fact, may never have been one in the first place. In "Real Estate", a suburban housewife deals with her husband's adulterous affairs, or rather, does not deal with them. In "People Like That are the Only People Here", a young couple deal with the unimaginable horror of watching their newborn son diagnosed with liver cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. In "Terrific Mother", a young woman and her boyfriend escape to Italy for a much-needed vacation after being involved in a horrific freak accidental death of a child for which the young woman cannot forgive herself. If you've read Moore before, you know how seductive her writing can be. She manages to transport the reader into these brief moments of other's lives, recognizing that we all have our own important stories to tell, which is what every great writer strives to do.
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