Synopses & Reviews
From Lauren Groff, author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling first novel The Monsters of Templeton
, comes Delicate Edible Birds
, one of the most striking short fiction debuts in recent years. Here are nine stories of astonishing insight and variety, each revealing a resonant drama within the life of a twentieth-century American woman.
In "Sir Fleeting," a Midwestern farm girl on her honeymoon in Argentina falls into lifelong lust for a French playboy. In "Blythe," an attorney who has become a stay-at-home mother takes a night class in poetry and meets another full-time mother, one whose charismatic brilliance changes everything. In "The Wife of the Dictator," that eponymous wife ("brought back... from [the dictator's] last visit to America") grows more desperately, menacingly isolated every day. In "Delicate Edible Birds," a group of war correspondents a lone, high-spirited woman among them falls sudden prey to a brutal farmer while fleeing Nazis in the French countryside. In "Lucky Chow Fun," Groff returns us to Templeton, the setting of her first book, for revelations about the darkness within even that idyllic small town.
In some of these stories, enormous changes happen in an instant. In others, transformations occur across a lifetime or several lifetimes.
Throughout the collection, Groff displays particular and vivid preoccupations. Crime is a motif sex crimes, a possible murder, crimes of the heart. Love troubles recur; theyâ€™re in every story love in alcoholism, in adultery, in a flood, even in the great flu epidemic of 1918. Some of the love has depths, which are understood too late; some of the love is shallow, and also understood too late. And mastery is a theme Groff's women swim and baton twirl, become poets, or try and try again to achieve the inner strength to exercise personal freedom.
Overall, these stories announce a notable new literary master. Dazzlingly original and confident, Delicate Edible Birds will further Groff's growing reputation as one of the foremost talents of her generation.
"Groff follows up The Monsters of Templeton with this innovative and beautifully written collection that covers a wide swath of humanity, from east coast resort towns, to the early 20th century flu epidemic, to WWII Europe. In 'Lucky Chow Fun,' the narrator, an ungainly but wise 17-year-old girl, watches over her younger sister after their father leaves and their mother tunes out. In 'Watershed,' a woman reunites with a man and moves back to her hometown, but their happiness is short-lived when a freak accident leaves her husband comatose. Not all stories are gems-the supernatural elements in 'Fugue,' about a couple tending to a semi-abandoned hotel, don't quite work, while 'Blythe,' about a housewife who befriends a bipolar eccentric in a poetry class, feels half-baked. Even in the less successful stories, Groff's prose is lovely, and when she nails a story-like the title story about journalists fleeing Nazi-occupied Paris-the results are sublime." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Nine wildly unique, exquisitely symphonic tales, full of beauty, tragedy, and the sudden horror of shocking images....Groff moves among these wholly unrelated worlds with a vision that happily traps the reader. Highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"The 'wild, febrile, kind, ambiguous' nature of the elements may serve to explain the power in these stories, which could have faltered in the hands of a lesser writer. Groff's skill makes commonplace occurrences seem compelling." Kirkus Reviews
"[R]ichly conceived, finely detailed....Vivid tales from a gifted young writer who continues to surprise." Booklist
"The stories achieve what short stories are supposed (and often fail) to achieve. They are a slice of life richly carved, with each image and scene sharply focused on bringing a single, overarching insight." Denver Post
"[A] collection of nine short stories that offer new twists of plot, character and language on topics that are popular with women." Seattle Times
The New York Times-bestselling author presents a collection of nine literary short stories. The title story is a harrowing, powerfully moving drama about a group of war correspondents who fall prey to a frightening man in the French countryside while fleeing the Nazis.
About the Author
Lauren Groff is the author of The Monsters of Templeton, which was short-listed for the Orange Prize for New Writers. Her short stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Atlantic, and Ploughshares and have been awarded a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Gainesville, Florida. Please visit www.LaurenGroff.com.