Birds of a Lesser Paradise by Megan Mahew Bergman
Birds of a Lesser Paradise by Megan Mahew Bergman

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 224
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Exploring the way our choices and relationships are shaped by the menace and beauty of the natural world, Megan Mayhew Bergman’s powerful and heartwarming collection captures the surprising moments when the pull of our biology becomes evident, when love or fear collides with good sense, or when our attachment to an animal or wild place can’t be denied.

In “Housewifely Arts,” a single mother and her son drive hours to track down an African gray parrot that can mimic her deceased mother’s voice. A population-control activist faces the conflict between her loyalty to the environment and her maternal desire in “Yesterday’s Whales.” And in the title story, a lonely naturalist allows an attractive stranger to lead her and her aging father on a hunt for an elusive woodpecker.

As intelligent as they are moving, the stories in Birds of a Lesser Paradise are alive with emotion, wit, and insight into the impressive power that nature has over all of us. This extraordinary collection introduces a young writer of remarkable talent.

My Thoughts:
This collection of twelve short stories was highly recommended by enough people that I trust on my LibraryThing group that I took a chance and bought a copy instead of getting it form the library. Then I promptly put it on my bookshelf and let it linger there for far too long.

Thanks to my commitment to reading my own books I finally pulled it off the shelf and read it. My friends were right. The writing is wonderful.

As with any short story collection, some of the stories are better than others. A few were rather forgettable but others really made an impact. The author’s husband is a veterinarian and in that profession is represented in several of the stories. Sometimes it’s the main character and sometimes not. All of the stories deal with women at a crossroads in their lives and touch on relationships with other people as well as animals and the natural world.

There are a few scenes that depict suffering animals and while they are well written and the animals are treated lovingly it’s a difficult subject and understandably a deal breaker for many readers.

The woman who took a road trip to find the bird who could mimic her mother’s voice is one that I could understand. There are days I’d give anything to hear my mother’s voice again. I also thought the one about a veterinarian who had her face scarred by a wolf hybrid that came out of the anesthesia unexpectedly was one of the better ones.

Many of the stories left me sad, so if it’s an uplifting collection of stories you’re looking for, this one isn’t it. Nevertheless the writing is simply lovely and something I could appreciate even though the overall tone of the stories wasn’t really my thing.

3 stars Rating 3/5