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Birds of America Paperback – 1 May 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (1 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571260861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571260867
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lorrie Moore is the award-winning author of the story collections Self-Help, Like Life, and Birds of America, and the novels Anagrams and Who will Run the Frog Hospital? She currently teaches English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison

Product Description

Amazon Review

Lorrie Moore made her debut in 1985 with Self-Help, which proved that she could write about sadness, sex and the single girl with as much tenderness--and with considerably more wit--than almost any of her contemporaries. She followed this story collection with another, Like Life, as well as two fine novels, Anagrams and Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? Yet Moore's rapid-fire alternation of mirth and deep melancholy is so perfectly suited to the short form that readers will greet Birds of America with an audible sigh of relief--and delight. In "Willing", for example, a second-rate Hollywood starlet retreats into a first-rate depression, taking shelter in a Chicago-area Days Inn. The author's eye for the small comic detail is intact: her juice-bar-loving heroine initially drowns her sorrows in "places called I Love Juicy or Orange-U-Sweet". Yet Moore seldom satisfies herself with mere pop-cultural mockery. She's too interested in the small and large devastations of life, which her actress is experiencing in spades. "Walter leaned her against his parked car," Moore relates. "His mouth was slightly lopsided, paisley-shaped, his lips anneloid and full, and he kissed her hard. There was something numb and on hold in her. There were small dark pits of annihilation she discovered in her heart, in the loosening fist of it, and she threw herself into them, falling." Elsewhere, the author serves up a similar mixture of one- liners and contemporary grief, lamenting the death of a housecat in "Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens" and the death of a marriage in "Which Is More Than I Can Say About That". And her hilarious account of a nuclear family undergoing a meltdown in "Charades" will make you want to avoid parlour games for the rest of your natural life. --James Marcus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Birds of America by the hugely talented Lorrie Moore is perhaps her most stunning collection of short stories yet, exploring the personal and the universal, the idiosyncratic and the mundane.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Oct. 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lorrie Moore is a consummate writer. For anyone who has not yet discovered her, "Birds Of America" is the ideal place to start. These short stories reach the deepest levels of the heart and the mind, laying forth a series of scorching, miniature portraits of absolute individuals, not one stereotype, full of the unexpected, painted with the deftest of brush strokes like impressionist paintings. The heart of contemporary America is laid bare through these jewelled miniatures, and the sheer, joyful richness of her language.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
Birds of America is an amazing collection of short stories. Read them alone, in the sun. These bittersweet moments in Moore's characters' lives are by far the best thing I have read this year. I don't wish to sound cliched, but they will make you smile, laugh and cry. Totally astounding.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Loved this book, wish someone would have cooked the meals and brought me cups of tea and then I could truly say "I could not put it down"
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 April 2001
Format: Paperback
"Birds of America" contains a number of stories which seem to cover a broad spectrum of the american life. Each story is very different from the others, but still, they are all insightful in the emotions that come with many aspects of life. It makes me wonder where Moore gets her inspiration. It would be painful to undergo all these emotions in person.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 116 reviews
51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
enough with the ridiculous comparisons 13 Nov. 2005
By mehmet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I feel sorry for the occasional David Sedaris fan who ran out to buy this book just because he said so, and then felt the authority in him/herself to say the book lacked depth and humor. First of all, while David Sedaris writes great, FUNNY books, he is writing in an entirely different league that does not even begin to compare what Moore accomplishes with her writing.

So Lorrie Moore's sense of humor is not as instantly gratifying as Sedaris's - she doesn't write centered around mere punchlines. Instead, she creates characters that are multi layered and breathing with life, sometimes over the course of only a few pages or even paragraphs, and even the comical moments therein are often subtle and melancholic. The moments she describes are so brilliantly captured and the confusion of characters so charming and relatable, so human and at once heartbreaking - I never know whether to respond in laughter, or tears.

This book is honestly one of my most cherished treasures.
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
A collection of stories worth reading over and over 26 Jan. 2003
By Debbie Lee Wesselmann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Lorrie Moore's BIRDS OF AMERICA is a rarity: a story collection that arrives on the literary scene with such power that people still talk about it years after its original publication.
What's so special about Moore? For one, she writes with an unusual mix of wry humor and deeply-rooted emotion. Because the surface of her stories shimmer with laughs, the true meaning of the story can sneak up on readers, and when it hits, it does so with pure force. Her language is exact and unadorned, leading the reader precisely where Moore intends. Her ability to nail cultural and personal detail is extraordinary.
The most famous, and arguably the most successful, story is "People Like That Are The Only People Here," the moving yet at times absurdist tale of a mother coping with the grave illness of her baby. At first, Moore seems almost coy with her character names - the Mother, the Baby, the Husband, the Surgeon - but they serve to mute the roiling fear running underneath in true Moore fashion until it can no longer be contained.
Not a single story in this collection fails, but some rise above others: "Which is More Than I Can Say About Some People", "Charades," "Agnes of Iowa," and "Terrific Mother." Some of these stories will have you doubled over with laughter; others will make your heart ache. Most will do both.
I highly recommend this book, even to people who don't normally read short stories. If you have already read it, read it again. You'll be surprised by how much surfaces the second time around.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
For anyone with a child interned at the hospital... 22 Mar. 2007
By Christine Allen-yazzie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Recently I spent a third long stay at a hospital with my daughter. Living at the hospital, particularly accompanying your child, is a surreal (at best) existence. I found myself thinking constantly of Moore's incredible rending yet somehow darkly humorous story, "People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk," wondering if anyone could possibly understand the dazed flurourescent-lit world of a pediatric hospital/cafeteria/series of Lego-like halls without having been forced to live it. The story brought me strange comfort, knowing that someone had glimpsed that life, the one where you're woken up constantly in the night and wonder whether it's night or day or if you'll ever get out of sweatpants, and as I waited to hear news regarding red blood cells, a part of me was falling apart for the mothers and children I saw there whose stay would not be nine or ten days, as ours, but months. If you know anyone who is stuck at the hospital for ridiculous amounts of time, this is the gift to bring them. The other stories are excellent too.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Stories about women who compromise with men are best 3 Sept. 2001
By M. JEFFREY MCMAHON - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best stories here are about talented, witty, sarcastic people (women mostly) who, lacking any hope or confidence, compromise their integrity to be in relationships with cliche-ridden mediocrities, bores, sociopaths, cheaters, phony ideologues, and other loathsome creatures. The result is a collection of stories that is both comic and sad. These characters seem rather nihilistic in their lack of free-will and the abyss of despair and acedia that they've succumbed to. Lorrie Moore is at the top of the literary food chain when it comes to writing these kind of short stories. There are imitators who try to be cool with their nihilistic, cynical stories, but Lorrie Moore is the genuine article.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Emotionally stunning 9 Mar. 2000
By Brent Woods - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm a fan of short fiction, but few collections prepared me for the emotional intensity of these stories. Each one left me with the feeling I had just read an 800 page novel - the depth of each story and character is remarkable. In particular the final story, Terrific Mother, with it's skillful balance of hope and dispair, comedy and tragedy left me wondering why Moore is not better known here in England.
This is a perfect collection for those who may not enjoy short stories and a revelation to those of us who do. This is my first introduction to Lorrie Moore and I will be quickly buying up her earlier work.
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