In complicated ways, creatures great and small affect the lives of human characters, who treat the animals' ailments, track them in the wild or adopt them as members of the family…We want stories to stir our desires. We also want them to lead us to places we don't recognize and build us a temporary residence there. Bergman provides alluring glimpses into the strangeness, the ruthlessness, of the animal kingdom.
Polly Rosenwaike - New York Times Book Review
Megan Mayhew Bergman’s collection of stories contains all of the elements that, it could be said, make up the very best in short fiction: each story is beautiful, full of palpable pain or joy--sometimes both--all loosely connected and based on the types of figures we’ve all known in our lives. But what sets this collection of stories apart is that each sentence feels sturdily crafted, each ending feels satisfying in a way short fiction rarely does. Mayhew Bergman does something exceptional with Birds of a Lesser Paradise--she quickly constructs a world filled with animals and nature and family who hate and love and mostly need one another--and it feels complete. —Alexandra Foster (Amazon Best Book of the Month)
Bergman’s stellar debut is set among the dense forests and swamps of her native North Carolina and rooted firmly in a crumbling and economically troubled post-crash America. These 12 short stories, all but two of which were published in journals like One Story, Ploughshares, and Narrative (and anthologized in the Best American and New Stories from the South series), may be tethered to familiar Southern gothic tropes, but Bergman deftly sidesteps cliche and sentimentality, using honest autobiographical moments to make her work unique.
Readers will be shocked, amazed, and always entertained by the work of this accomplished writer of short fiction.
From a young Southern writer of note, a top-notch debut collection of stories, most of them revolving around motherhood, animals and conflicting loyalties.... The collection’s second half doesn’t quite measure up to the level of the first, but that’s a minor flaw in a book that deserves big praise. The beginning, one suspects, of a fine career.
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