Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book Review: Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories, by Lauren Groff

Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories, by Lauren Groff

Let's start with the title.

Kinda creepy, huh? Or maybe it's the vegetarian in me that finds it so.

Well, if you're interested sampling a great short story collection, move past the appetizer of a title and settle in for a treat. A delicacy, shall we say.

Delicate Edible Birds is author Lauren Groff's second book, her first being the best-seller The Monsters of Templeton (which I haven't read). It's a collection of nine stories, most of which have been published in various literary journals.

Of the nine, I enjoyed the first seven - with "Majorette," "Blythe," "Watershed," and "Sir Fleeting" being among the best short stories I've ever read. (As much as I really wanted to, I couldn't get into "Fugue" or "Delicate Edible Birds." I found myself slightly confused and re-reading sentences, putting the book down and starting again ... all to no avail.)

These stories are a little dark, particularly so with a few paragraphs in "L. Debard and Aliette." Same with "Lucky Chow Fun," which re-visits Templeton, NY, the setting for Groff's novel, The Monsters of Templeton. Of particular interest to me were the stories set in central Pennsylvania and Philadelphia (especially "Blythe").

In each of the seven stories I read, Groff includes the bird metaphor in some way, but it's done so effectively that it doesn't seem like overkill or heavy-handedness on the author's part. She is also adept at showing the reader what era the story is happening in without specifying the year - "But the newscasters trickled away when a professional football player killed his wife and charged the country with a new angst." - and especially, in developing her characters. (Blythe, from "Blythe" is especially memorable, as is Ancel de Chair - awesome name, no? - from "Sir Fleeting".)

When an author is new to me, I often enjoy discovering them through their short stories (if they have written such). I think it gives a special sense of their writing in an appetizer kind of way while whetting the appetite for a larger, sit-down meal.

See what some other bloggers had to say about Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories:

Alyce from At Home with Books
Educating Petunia
Nicole from Linus's Blanket
S. Krishna's Books
Melissa from Shhh I'm Reading

1 comment:

JoAnn said...

Short story as an appetizer - I love it!!

Have been interested in reading this author and even suggested The Monsters of Templeton to my book club (it didn't get selected). I'll try her short stories first - thanks.