Picks and Pans Review: Birds of America
The heartbreaker in this astonishing short story collection is about a baby with cancer and a mother and writer whose husband urges her to take notes about the pediatric oncology ward. The baby survives; the reader is shell-shocked. Lorrie Moore knows the territory—her baby was severely ill too—and yet the motor here is art, not experience; invention, not memory.
Moore makes up stories about people who seem real and weirdly important, like the reformed drinker who stumbles into a gay relationship with a blind man; the woman who can't get over the death of her cat; or the minor movie star who beds an auto mechanic. Even more important are the vivid images of things we thought we already knew. Have you had a migraine that "sat like a cheap, crazy tie" in your eye? Have you kicked off your shoes, seen your "pickled toes" and thought, "Slugs in a box"? Moore can show you these daily wonders—and more. (Knopf, $23)
Bottom Line: A word wizard writes a winner