Forrest's Reviews > Birds of America

Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
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Jul 24, 2007

it was amazing
Recommended for: anyone
Read in September, 2006

Birds of America is a story collection by one of the most talented (but minimal) writers around, Lorrie Moore. The stories here are not big or grand or epic, but work simply as little one-act plays, exposing the inherent complexities and dramas in the everyday lives we all lead.

Moore's writing style is subtle, and laced with a fantastic sense of wit; witness, for example, her slight mocking of the health fad craze in the names she creates for juice bars; or her sly commentary about the misnomer of "busy bee" in the story "Whatever You Want, Fine." Added to this wit is a keen sense of what it means to be on this earth and to interact with someone else (I'm being cliche here, because I'm no Lorrie Moore), to have an effect upon someone's life simply because you happen to walk a similar road together for awhile, and it is the way in which she explores this truth that gives her stories the weight they need to avoid being simple comic pieces.

The three best stories, in my opinion, are "Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens," "People Like That Are The Only People Here," and "Which is More Than I Can Say About Some People." The first story deals with a woman who has a wonderfully loving husband and a great daughter, but can't get over the loss of her cat, and so decides to undergo therapy that guarentees to "cure her by Christmas or the last session is free!" The second deals with pediatric oncology in a harrowing and moving way, about the distance illness brings between people, and the last deals with a mother and daughter, on a road trip through Ireland, and the ways in which revelations of character don't end simply because you know someone for years and years.

These are wonderful, wonderful stories, the kind that make you think about your own life, examine it in the ways the characters are examined here, that affirm realizations you yourself have come to or guide you toward ones you haven't, and I don't think you can ask for much more than that from a book.
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