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Birds of a Lesser Paradise

Birds of a Lesser Paradise

Stories

  • reading group guide
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).
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  • Simon & Schuster Audio | 
  • ISBN 9781442357921 | 
  • November 2012
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Birds of a Lesser Paradise

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.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Birds of a Lesser Paradise includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Megan Mayhew Bergman. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Megan Mayhew Bergman’s Birds of a Lesser Paradise captures the surprising moments when the pull of our biology becomes evident, when love collides with good sense, and when our attachments 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 dead mother’s voice. A population control activist faces the ultimate conflict between loyalty to the environment and 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.


Topics & Questions for Discussion


1. How much of a role does nature play in the lives of the heroines of Mayhe see more

About the Author

Megan Mayhew Bergman
photo by Bo Bergman

Megan Mayhew Bergman

Megan Mayhew Bergman grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and attended Wake Forest University. She has graduate degrees from Duke University and Bennington College. Her first collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, was one of Huffington Post's Best Books of 2012. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Best American Short Stories, New Stories from the South, Ploughshares, Tin House, and Oxford American, among other publications. She writes a sustainability column for Salon and lives on a small farm in Vermont with her veterinarian husband, two daughters, four dogs, four cats, goats, and chickens.

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