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

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  389 ratings  ·  37 reviews
This special limited edition of A Convergence of Birds follows the successful publication of the trade edition of this wonderful anthology of new fiction and poetry inspired by the art of Joseph Cornell. This book features writing from 22 of the best American writers working today; authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Pinsky, Rick Moody, Howard Norman and Barry Lopez, all ...more
Leather Bound, 160 pages
Published July 2nd 2002 by Distributed Art Publishers (DAP) (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  389 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Sep 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 spoi
Carrie Black
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If indeed family is "that one is married, in one sense, to moments, to melodies, to spaces of possibility, to memory, to the sound of words forming in the mouth, to the purity of a age, the beauty of any insignificant discarded thing," then I have now joined A Convergence of Birds in purest kinship. The beginnings of the beginnings of how the book came to begin, the middles of the middles of the aggregation of it all, the ending, which has not truly ended for me, have added to each other ...more
Feb 12, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Aug 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
some stories were really meh. enjoyed most of the poetry that i read though. also i didn't finish it bc.....boring.
Apr 03, 2015 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 a
Jellie Dawn
Sep 04, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
JJ Aitken
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 b
Lori Koshork
Aug 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
Oct 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
May 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 24, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 29, 2008 rated it did not like it
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 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 18, 2009 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.
Oct 30, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was ok
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).
Alison Smith
Aug 04, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
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.
Jan 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Hannah Strom
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
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).
Jan 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
Rude E
Dec 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great Cornell panels throughout the text.
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
"I love this. You will love this."
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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.
“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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