Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir: Stories
Joe Meno
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Buy *Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir: Stories* online

Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir: Stories
Joe Meno
192 pages
April 2007
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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The cover blurb on this book of shorts from Joe Meno (Hairstyles Of The Damned, How The Hula Girl Sings) states, “These are stories that will make you laugh and break your heart at the same time, and for me it doesn’t get any better than that.” For the most part, this is a true statement. The stories have a unique blend of horror or tragedy combined with humor that gives them their own flavor.

Depending on how you look at short story collections, this will either be extremely fulfilling or a tad bittersweet. Not that the bittersweet is really a bad thing, but for me, the best story was the first story, and the rest of the book didn’t tickle my fancy the way that one did. It is a story of twins who get into their fathers medical supplies and anesthetize and dress small animals to cheer their dying mother:

“The house was to be completely silent at all times. Our mother direly needed rest and quiet. We were told this time and time again even though my sister had given up talking completely, relying instead on elaborate hand signs. We were making our own language at the time, one without any words. It was a kind of code where you would spread your fingers to resemble a sparrow to indicate that you wanted to go outside, but then by making the same hand gesture over your eyes, you might signal that you were sad or angry or very tired. The language was so imperfect that it was deeply beautiful. Each sign meant three things at least, and the other response was so inaccurate that it gave both of use the sense we were psychic, because it was impossible that the signs we shared could not be right. On the first day of summer, my mother’s birthday, our father had hung himself in the cellar, and the sound of that act was something none of us could get out of our minds.”
In the one hundred and eighty pages there are seventeen stories. Along with the first one, entitled “The Use Of Medicine,” there are stories about an awkward teen at a Greek mythology camp, brothers brought together by stolen airport baggage and several others showing off Meno’s talent for writing odd yet honest characters. Overall, Bluebirds Used To Croon In The Choir is an entertaining collection.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Bobby Blades, 2006

Also by Joe Meno:

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