The publication of Lorrie Moore’s third collection of short stories catapulted her to the front ranks of major writers of short fiction. What her previous collection Like Life promised, the arrival in 1998 of Birds of America confirmed. Though she was narrowly edged out of winning the National Book Critics Circle Award for best work of fiction by the legendary Alice Munro in a year that also saw Michael Cunningham’s The Hours receive a nomination, the critical reception was very nearly universal in its robust appreciation for Moore’s books of birds. The volume did go on to win a Salon Book Award, as well as recognition by the Village Voice as one of its books of the year.
Birds of every feather from pink flamingos to crafty crows—and even a few bats just for metaphorical good measure—make their way into the dozen stories that comprise Birds of America. As befitting her stature as a master of the craft of short story composition, the stories included in this volume had previously been published in prestigious periodicals such as The New Yorker, Elle, The New York Times, and The Paris Review.
Those titular birds are more metaphorical than literal as the stories are loosely linked by themes associated with geographical and spiritual migration that humans undergo, as their lives become shaped by forces as powerful as the jet stream and every bit as difficult to maneuver.