Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories is a collection of short stories written by Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton. The stories are unique and disparate; each has its own theme, its own characters and its own plot. The only thing they have in common is that each story is about a woman. These women are from different backgrounds and stations in life and are of different ages, but each has an interesting story to tell.
One problem with short stories is that there is often not enough time for the reader to become invested in a character before the tale ends. That’s not the case for Groff’s stories; she has a talent for developing characters. Somehow, in the short space that is each of these stories, Groff manages to create fully realized characters who readers will sympathize with and root for. It is a singular talent, and Groff utilizes it incredibly well.
The stories within Delicate Edible Birds vary; some are definitely more interesting than others. The best story in the collection is “Blythe,” the tale of a severely depressed, perhaps bipolar woman who forges a friendship with another woman in her poetry class. The story follows the ups and downs of her life and reveals how damaging one woman can be to those around her. Another great story is “Sir Fleeting,” which chronicles a woman’s emotional affair with a dashing man over the course of her life. She reveals how fleeting the man’s emotions really were (hence the title) and, in her old age, realizes the emotions she spent on him were wasted. Judging by other reviews, however, each reader will find their own favorite stories within Groff’s collection. No matter who you are, one or two of these stories will speak to something inside you.
Delicate Edible Birds is a wonderful short story collection that is a tribute to the genre. Like most collections, some of these stories have been previously published. However, six of the stories are unique to Delicate Edible Birds, making this book a real gem. This is definitely appropriate for any short story lovers, as well as those looking for a book to introduce them to the genre.