Sunday, 9 June 2013

Short Story Sunday - Lorrie Moore

Birds of America - Lorrie Moore

This collection from 1998 contains twelve stories:
  • Willing
  • Which Is More Than I Can Say About Some People
  • Dance in America
  • Community Life
  • Agnes of Iowa
  • Charades
  • Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens
  • Beautiful Grade
  • What You Want to Do Fine
  • Real Estate
  • People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk
  • Terrific Mother
The stories deal with relationships between: lovers, mothers and daughters and divorced, or soon to be divorced, couples; relationships that are ruptured, just beginning or changing in some way. The themes of marriage (the putting-up kind) and divorce are very strong throughout the collection, and like many of the other modern short story collections that I have read, cancer makes an appearance in a couple of the stories. I found most of the stories quite brittle and harsh; however, the dialogue (internal and between characters) in many of the stories made me chuckle and kept me reading.

Although I know that the stories are not about birds, the title made me look for them. In the collection, I found: jays, ravens, chickadees, blackbirds and vultures, gulls, grebes, flamingos, geese, ducks and crows. Audubon (the author of the original Birds of America) is mentioned in What You Want to Do Fine. The main characters of this story, Mack and Quilty, have visited Audubon's house on one of their previous road-trip vacations. Although Audubon is mentioned in this story, I thought that the choice of Birds of America as the title of the collection had a greater meaning - perhaps Lorrie Moore's Birds of America is supposed to be a comprehensive reflection of the lives of various types of modern Americans. I am not sure about this analysis, and when I was reading the collection I did feel that maybe I was missing various points from not understanding enough about life in the US. In any case, I enjoyed this collection and found the writing clever and witty.

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