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Publisher's Summary

An “astonishing debut collection, by a writer reminiscent of such greats as Alice Munro, Elizabeth Strout, and even Chekhov” (Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants), focusing on women navigating relationships with humans, animals, and the natural world.

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 ultimate 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 is a poignant prose menagerie” (Associated Press).

©2012 Megan Mayhew Bergman (P)2012 Simon & Schuster, Inc

Critic Reviews

"Birds of a Lesser Paradise is an astonishing debut collection, by a writer reminiscent of such greats as Alice Munro, Elizabeth Strout and even Chekhov. Expertly delivered, Bergman's stories bloom from the minutiae of life. They confirm the inescapable power that nature - and our own biology - has over us." (Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants)
"Megan Mayhew Bergman apparently possesses, all in one sensibility, Ralph Waldo Emerson's love of a back-to-the-land self-sufficiency, Amy Hempel's infinite tenderness towards animals, and Tillie Olsen's fierce sense of the emotional intensities of motherhood. Birds of a Lesser Paradise features characters who, even understanding it as well as they do, want to mother the world, and their stories are rendered with dazzling compassion, intelligence, and grace." (Jim Shepard, author of You Think That's Bad)
"A big-hearted collection of stories - each one a precise and compassionate study of human life, the changes and obstacles - all carefully housed under the miracles and marvels of nature. Megan Mayhew Bergman is a brilliantly gifted writer who recognizes and highlights life's fragilities in a way that will leave your heart aching while also finding those bits of hilarity and absurdity that bring uniqueness to each and every creature." (Jill McCorkle, author of Going Away Shoes)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Story

A WONDERFUL COLLECTION

This book is a wonderful collection of short stories that link human experience with animal nature. Whether as a metaphor or as an adjunct to a particular story the animals assist the telling of all of the poignant vignettes that comprise this lovely book. The narrator does an exemplary job of subtly adjusting to the feel of each of the stories. By the way Malachai ( spelling ? ) is a looney tune... my opinion, of course !

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • T. Schram
  • Dripping Springs, Texas! United States of America
  • 03-10-15

I was not prepared...

... For this book to be a series of long-ish stories. Not long enough to be novels, or even novellas, but longer than "short," stories. At first I was very disappointed, because I dislike short stories... They are never long enough to bring the reader into the story completely, like a book, but longer than just the intro-story-denouement that a simple story might be. These surprising stories are really good, though. Each one could very easily be developed into a novel, and for
many, please advise when that happens; I look
forward to that happy day. I highly recommend this group of vignettes of human life. They are placed from different viewpoints, but all are full of life. Highly recommend it!!

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  • alison
  • Samford Valley, Australia
  • 03-04-13

An Excellent Collection of Short Stories

Would you consider the audio edition of Birds of a Lesser Paradise to be better than the print version?

The audio was fantastic, but this is the kind of book I'd like to take a highlighter to and underscore a few of Bergman's wonderful turns of phrase.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I liked the disfigured vet in the story "Saving Face."

Which character – as performed by Cassandra Campbell – was your favorite?

None stands out. They were all stellar.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Because it is short stories, it is suited to listening in small installments.

Any additional comments?

If you think you don't like short stories, try this book. It may just change your mind.

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A Bit Disappointed

I was aware at the time of purchase that this was a collection of short stories, but found myself feeling as if I was left hanging at the end of each story. Overall I just didn't get the sense of satisfaction from a good read.