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Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories

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really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  4,101 ratings  ·  522 reviews
In "Sir Fleeting," a Midwestern farm girl on her honeymoon in Argentina falls into lifelong lust for a French playboy. In "Blythe," an attorney who has become a stay-at-home mother takes a night class in poetry and meets another full-time mother, one whose charismatic brilliance changes everything. In "The Wife of the Dictator," that eponymous wife ("brought back . . . fro ...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Hachette Books
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Hannah
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Lauren Groff. And I am trying to be better about reading other books authors I love have written, so I am currently making my way through her back catalogue and I am seriously happy about it. I think I liked this short story collection even more than her new one (which I reviewed earlier this year) and I enjoyed that one immensely. But this collection here just blew me away.

I am in awe of Lauren Groff’s command of language – every single sentence ist perfectly done while not making the wr
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Katie
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Lauren Groff's writing, her way with words. I'd say the writing in these stories is perhaps more exciting than the stories themselves. Not that the stories aren't riveting. Or some of them.

They are all fairly long and focus principally on the dilemmas of women. She shows herself to be versatile in terms of setting and period - one story takes place in France in 1940, another during Spanish flu epidemic in the second decade of the 20th century and another in an unnamed country at an unnam
...more
karen
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hey-shorty
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 (Again)
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
...more
Lisa
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
[3.7] I admire Lauren Groff's writing very much (My favorite is Arcadia). The stories in this diverse collection showcase her talent - most quite good, some are spectacular and a few I plodded through. The title story, about a group of war correspondents in German occupied France, is stunning.
Snotchocheez
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it

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
...more
Teresa
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it
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: separate stories reminding 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 "Watershe
...more
missy jean
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Fantastic feminist stories.

But listen, I don't think my goodreads reviews of Lauren Groff's books have been quite glowing enough, so let me say something about Delicate Edible Birds and Arcadia and Fates & Furies, all of which I've read in the past few months: These books have been like making a new friend right when I needed one. They've been comfort, warm bowls of soup, cold glasses of water, freshly-laundered blankets, cool breezes. They've commiserated with me on bitter-colored days. Not bec
...more
Robert Blumenthal
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Lauren Groff after reading Fates and Furies and then seeing her interviewed by Seth Myers on The Late Show. This is her initial collection of short stories, and they are simply dazzling. I would say that I probably have not read a better collection of short stories by anyone at anytime. High praise, obviously, but, IMHO, very well deserved.

These stories all deal with woman characters going through some life altering experience, many involving some sort of sexuality. The charac
...more
Jenna
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
...more
Cynthia Paschen
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Marina
Mar 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Renita D'Silva
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Exceptional writing! Loved every one of these beautiful vignettes into life in different countries in different eras, all exploring ordinary dilemmas during ordinary and extra-ordinary times. I think my absolute favourite of the stories is Majorette, although it is tough to choose between them as each is perfect, exquisite. So beautifully written. I'm in awe of this author's writing, her turn of phrase, her ability to make us care about every one of the characters in each of these distinct, ...more
Brian
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing

A first-rate collection of short fiction; wonderful storytelling, rich characters and taut writing deep with meaning. I am looking forward to reading Groff's novels following this tremendous book of stories.
Angela
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm incredibly picky about what I'll read, but after her short story in The New Yorker I was hooked. It was like love at first sight with this author. Lauren Groff is easily one of the most talented writers of our time and I will read ANYTHING she writes. These stories were INCREDIBLE. I'm making all of my friends read this book immediately so that I'll have people to talk to about it.

I just opened the book so that I could list my favorite stories, but they're all wonderful! I love the way she
...more
Rachel León
Lauren Groff is a fantastic writer and I admire her prose. A few of these stories are really great, but others are a bit blah (though beautifully written, of course).
Fatma
Eh. Groff is a talented writer for sure, but I don't know if short stories will ever completely work for me.

Let's get the obvious out of the way: Lauren Groff can write. Her sentences are elegant and light, evoking feeling and describing setting in a precise and simple way that still manages to be fresh and creative. As for the stories themselves, though, they were, as with pretty much every short story collection I read nowadays, a mixed bag. My favourite was definitely the first story, "Lucky
...more
Lulufrances
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's truly beyond me how Lauren Groff can just create the most vivid and beautiful short stories ever.
Absolutely dazzling.
I've said it before in another review - if there would be such a thing as choosing an author to write one's own biography, I'd choose her. She has the most brilliant and inspiring writing that reminds me of filmstills and is all I aspire to translate into my photography. (Does this make sense? Because it does to me.)

Definitely one of my all time favourite writers.
Jennifer Spiegel
Nov 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
I really like this book. First, there’s the title. Then, there are the stories. The title is somehow tender and savage at the same time. The stories got me. One after the other.

Before my two or three readers gasp, “But she LIKES everything,” let me tell you: It’s Not True. I’m still trying to figure out the politics, if you will, of the book review. Don’t say anything if you don’t have anything nice to say? Never give a bad review? So what good is a review if it’s no review at all?

I don’t know
...more
Ally Armistead
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
"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
...more
Stephanie
Feb 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Sabrina
This is pretty much exactly what I want out of a short story collection.
Alan
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Highly professional, complex stories, like mini novels. You have to admire the breadth of imagination, with stories set around the world (although mainly US) and in different times throughout the 20th century. Character studies with intricate plotting (so much so I got a bit lost at points - but that may have been because the copy I got out of the library was large print, which, oddly, I found difficult to read). Strangely I watched an episode of 'Succession' where a character, showing off, take ...more
Linda Robinson
Apr 02, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Catherine
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories, 2013
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.
...more
Ryann
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These stories positively ache with the difficulties and cruelties that women must face. Groff's work covers years of a character's life with ease, and she has a talent for sweeping, stunning endings that leave you breathless. A beautiful, tender and unflinching collection.
Lindsay Loson
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reads
"There is no ending, no neatness in this story. There never really is, where water is concerned. It is wild, febrile, kind, ambiguous; it is dark and carries the mud, and it is clear and the cleanest thing. Too much of it kills us, and not enough kills us, and it is what makes us, mostly. Water is the cleverest substance, wily beyond the stretch of our mortal imaginations. And no matter where it is pent, no matter if it is air or liquid or solid, it will someday, inevitably, find its way out
...more
R.K. Cowles
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
3 3/4 stars
Chase
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I can't remember the last story collection I read that had this kind of propulsion, where the focus of the stories is as much on the characters and their actions as it is on the construction of the sentences. Which is to say, where plot is powerful without overwhelming. Egan's EMERALD CITY, maybe? Daniel Alarcón? Regardless, the majority of the stories here are incredibly readable, paced like thrillers unspooling. And Groff's sentences, of course, dazzle. Some of these work better than others -- ...more
Superstition Review
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“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
...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff 2 24 Mar 23, 2015 02:13PM  
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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

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