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Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,806 Ratings  ·  391 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 (first published 2009)
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Rating details
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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  "Astute Crabbist"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Rachel León
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
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).
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.
This is pretty much exactly what I want out of a short story collection.
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
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
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, short-stories
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.
Simone Subliminalpop
Lucky Chow Fun ★★★★
L. Debard e Aliette ★★★★
Majorette ★★
Blythe ★★★
La moglie del dittatore ★★
Spartiacque ★★★★
Sir Fleeting ★★★
Fuga ★★★
Delicati uccelli commestibili ★★★★


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
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I usually prefer an author's full length novels to their shorts, but after reading this, I'd have to say that Lauren Groff is the exception to my nitpicky rule. There are amazingly developed beautiful worlds here, memorable and full of poetry, even if I'm still kind of left with that grating feeling that things just end prematurely and I want more: more development, more closure, more of everything. Once again, I'm grateful for Groff's ability to humanize characters that maybe aren't the most sy ...more
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I admire Lauren Groff and there is no doubt she is an accomplished and even astounding writer. There is something so polished and so erudite about her books and stories that they seem to be an example of a good story rather than the real thing. Her references are impressive, the twists in the plot are tricky but predictable. I want to shake her up and ALL my literary friends are enamored with this smart author so just but this rating down to personal preference.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I like the way Lauren Groff writes short stories. They're actual stories, they take time to develop and occupy the pages to develop in. Too many short story writers trail off without a proper ending, and that's rather an unsatisfying experience. This collection has some really lovely stories that explore most everything there is to be explored about the characters.

My favorite is Blythe, about this former attorney now housewife who takes a poetry class and meets Blythe, who has a number of menta
Marcello S
Ero partito con l’idea di leggere "Fato e Furia". Fino a poco tempo fa se ne parlava ovunque.
Poi però due persone affidabili me ne hanno parlato un po’ così e allora mi è passata la voglia.
E ho declinato sui racconti.
M’è andata meglio? Insomma.

Credo che a loro modo siano ben confezionati, scrittura fluida e piacevole.
Lauren Groff vede il racconto come un romanzo condensato, che spesso va a racchiudere vite intere.
Non so, forse per me un racconto deve indagare una situazione, un momento, un p
Nancie Lafferty
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful writing, “dazzlingly original and confident.” Women after my own heart. First contact with Lauren Groff, but seeking more. A very satisfying read and one I would read again.
I received this book as a Giveaway and am so thankful for the reading experience and to the Giveaway program for introducing me to this lovely, insightful writer.
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Each of the stories in this vibrant collection sucks you into its world, driven by vivid characters and taut prose. Groff takes us from the 1918 flu epidemic in New York to occupied France in the second world war, each narrative unique and compelling.
Robin Schultze
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Some of these stories hit much harder than others; Groff creates worlds, but doesn't always quite finish them. 3.5.
Jan 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Not everyone likes short stories. Not even all library students! But to me, a short story can be a beautiful tale, despite its brevity. When well-crafted, they can encapsulate deep truths, within a few pages. I found this to be true within "Delicate Edible Birds," the inaugural collection of short stories by author Lauren Groff, more famously known for her 2008 novel, "The Monsters of Templeton." Groff's nine stories are beautifully told; each very unique; and overall, a tribute to the intricaci ...more
Rijula D
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
How does she do it!
The writing is amazing, with a strange haunting quality to. Lines that you stop to read again and again before proceeding to the next one. And something like a culmination of the haunting language stays with you even after the stories are done, popping its head from time to time as you do other things.
Most of the stories are about women. Yet Groff's feminism is not heavy handed, political, but an exploration. Though I'd have wished that they were not all about women, and what
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I didn't finish this collection of short stories before I had to return it to the library (a sign of the writer's growing popularity: I couldn't renew it because someone else was waiting for it) and to be honest, I was kind of relieved. The four short stories I read were excellent but very intense and I was ready for a break. But what a terrific young female writer, who created some very original well-drawn characters, especially young women, and situations (like a wheelchair-bound, headstrong, ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff 2 22 Mar 23, 2015 02:13PM  
Author reading! 1 20 Jan 24, 2009 05:07PM  
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  • What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us
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  • Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories
  • Nothing Right
  • Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories
  • Women and Other Animals: Stories
  • Vanishing and Other Stories
  • You Think That's Bad
  • Boys and Girls Like You and Me: Stories
  • Death Is Not an Option
  • In the Devil's Territory
  • Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry
  • Girl Trouble: Stories
  • The New York Stories
  • Willful Creatures
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 about Lauren Groff...
“Depressing thought: my friends were the girls I ate lunch with, all buddies from kindergarten who knew one another so well we weren't sure if we even liked one another anymore.” 20 likes
“And she, the new mother of a daughter, felt a fierceness come over her that seized at her heart, that made her feel as if her bones were turned to steel, as if she could turn herself into a weapon to keep this daughter of hers from having to be hurt by the world outside the ring of her arms.” 11 likes
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