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).
Megan Mayhew Bergman is the author of Almost Famous Women, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, and Nightingale Lane. She is a regular columnist for The Guardian, and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Best American Short Stories, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and Oxford American, among other publications. She was a fellow at the American Library in Paris and now directs Middlebury’s Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference. She lives in Vermont.