Beginning with a story about a second-rate film actress involved with a mechanic who has not the least idea who she was as an actress or is as a human being, this is a series of portraits of the young, the hip, the lost, the unsettled and the unhinged of modern-day America.
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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 parlor games for the rest of your natural life. --James MarcusFrom the Publisher:
"Lorrie Moore soars with Birds of America...a marvelous, fiercely funny book." --Jeff Giles, Newsweek
"Fluid, cracked, mordant, colloquial, Moore's sentences hold, even startle.... Her most potent work so far...[it] will stand by itself as one of our funniest, most telling anatomies of human love and vulnerability." --James McManus, The New York Times Book Review
"A marvelous collection, deeper than anything Moore has written and yet underscored by that trademark humor in the face of familiar awfulness. Her stories are tough, lean, funny, and metaphysical.... Birds of America has about it a wild beauty that simply makes one feel more connected to life." --Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe
"At once sad, funny, lyrical and prickly, Birds of America attests to the deepening emotional chiaroscuro of her wise and beguiling work." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
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