An Ornithologist's Guide to Life: Stories

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9780393327045: An Ornithologist's Guide to Life: Stories
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"A collection of short stories that makes it possible to be proud to be human."―Carolyn See, Washington Post

Looking at her characters as if through a pair of binoculars, Ann Hood captures the extraordinary in the ordinary. A pregnant woman left by her husband cooks obsessively to cope with her loss, but never tastes a morsel. In an attempt to stay sober, a young alcoholic seduces her priest and embarks on a tour of caverns with him. An adolescent girl picks up bird-watching as a hobby and, in her newfound habit of observing others, discovers a budding romance between her mother and her neighbor. These stories, many published in The Paris Review, Glimmer Train, Story, and The Colorado Review, are full of characters seeking an escape from their lives while uncovering small moments of understanding that often have huge implications and consequences. They discover that they can only find peace once they stop searching for a way out. Through diverse voices and lively storytelling, Hood creates authentic, personal, secret worlds full of eccentric detail.

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About the Author:

Ann Hood is the author of eight previous books, including the best-selling memoir Comfort: A Journey Through Grief and best-selling novels The Book That Matters Most and The Knitting Circle. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

From Publishers Weekly:

A first collection by novelist Hood (Something Blue; Ruby; etc.) comprises 11 conventional but affecting stories that suffer from a back-cover comparison to Lorrie Moore and Antonya Nelson. The first, "Total Cave Darkness," is winning, relating the adventures of the alcoholic narrator (who has a tender love affair with the bottle) and a young, foxy minister on an injudicious road trip. "After Zane," which begins like Amy Hempel's masterful "Beg, Sl Tog, Inc, Cont, Rep" with a woman who staves off grief through compulsive domesticity, features a narrator who bakes constantly after the father of her unborn child decamps. Wonderful in parts, flabby in others, the story strains, like others here, for a final-page profundity (often via a lovely but easy metaphor). A gentle story about the growing friendship between a pregnant divorcée and a Martha Stewart mom, for example, is marred by an ending that is simultaneously predictable and improbable. But Hood's stories can be quite moving: "Escapes" surprises with a fierce revelation that forges a stronger bond between a troubled young girl and her aunt, while in "The Language of Sorrow" a woman and her grandson grapple with matters of death and new life. Hood is a polished writer and a careful observer, and she walks the popular funny-sad line very well, but perhaps not as adroitly as the convention's aforementioned greats.
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9780393059007: An Ornithologist's Guide to Life: Stories

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