Jennifer's Reviews > Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories

Birds of a Lesser Paradise by Megan Mayhew Bergman
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May 23, 12

Read in May, 2012

Here's the thing. It's rare for me to like a short story collection. The last one I liked was Olive Kitteridge. Even my perennial favorite, Stephen King, falls short for me when it comes to writing short stories, and I prefer his novellas. My problems with short pieces are normally they just seem incomplete, lacking full characterization and story, and just leave me wanting to read . . . a long story or book, I guess. I almost always feel wanting, for lack of a better word, upon finishing one, and therefore almost never commit to a whole collection.

But the stories in Birds of a Lesser Paradise were extraordinarily crafted, with distinct authentic voices and experiences for each character, although some elements of the stories were similar. Despite their lengths, they delved deep into the psyche and emotion of relationships: parent / child, caregiver / pet, homeowner / space, friends, other family, community members, in a way that was authentic, relatable, and moving. I really couldn't pick a favorite, and kind of blasted through them in lengthy reading sessions, so they kind of blended together in my memory, but that was my fault -- they're distinct in the writing. My least favorite was probably the cautionary fable on ecological conservation: she weakened a little for me when she explored a little future-think / sci-fi stuff, but really excelled at realism.
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