Book Reviews

Birds of a Lesser Paradise- Megan Mayhew Bergman




Birds of a Lesser Paradise is a collection of 12 short stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman, an author who resides in Vermont with her veterinarian husband, daughters, and animals. I think the quote from The Boston Globe describes the collection best- “These stories are a pleasure to read, and their animal motifs provide…insight into the human condition, and sometimes vice versa. Bergman possesses a crisp and often poetic voice and wily, intelligent humor.”

One of my favorite stories, Housewifely Arts, is about a woman traveling south with her seven-year-old son to hear her late mother’s voice via Carnie, a potty-mouthed parrot. On the way, she muses about the attributes she’s passed onto her son. “Cancer genes, hay fever, high blood pressure, perhaps a fear of math–these are my gifts” (5).   She wants so much to protect her son from the cruel world- “I don’t want him to know that people like Louis’s mom exist, that people fall into land mines of pain and can’t crawl back out” (9). And she wants to atone for her past mistakes, specifically the hurt she caused her parents. Her father worked at a menial job for years to help pay her way through college but she didn’t succeed. On her way to the nursing home, her mother asked her to take care of Carnie, who she loved like a child, but she refused.  “I saw her touch her shoulder, the place where Carnie had so often rested, his remembered weight now a phantom presence on her thinning bones” (18). She holds onto her son so tightly because he is the only family left. Her parents are dead, she has no husband or love interest, and the bird she couldn’t stand refuses to communicate with her. Even the memories of her parents are fading like her mother’s homemade velvet curtains.

This collection is perfect for anyone who is passionate about nature, animals, and the intricacies of the human spirit.

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  1. Looks good! That sounds like my kind of book. :)
    Casa Mariposa recently posted…Mighty FineMy Profile

  2. You read so fast. I’m so impressed. Lurve it.
    Katie Cross recently posted…How Do I “Rock a Casbah?”My Profile

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