Much has happened in Megan Mayhew Bergman’s life since Wake Forest Magazine interviewed her last fall.
Her new book, a collection of stories titled “Birds of a Lesser Paradise” (Scribner, 2012) has been released and favorably reviewed by Polly Rosenwaike in the April 1 New York Times Book Review.
Bergman (’02), who lives on a Vermont farm with her veterinarian husband Bo Bergman (’02) and two daughters, wrote the stories to explore modern motherhood and the pull of biology on our lives, plus our relationship with animals.
The stories take place in urban gardens, veterinary clinics, Southern diners and swamps, among other locales.
In her review, Rosenwaike writes that the first story in Bergman’s collection, “Housewifely Arts,” begins with a woman driving hundreds of miles to see a parrot. She can’t stand the bird, which sings Patsy Cline and tells off imaginary telemarketers, but it has one trick worth listening to: it sounds just like her dead mother.
“The two women didn’t get along, but now that the mother is gone, the daughter longs to hear her familiar voice, even from a beady-eye mimic,” writes Rosenwaike.
The NYT review notes that many of Bergman’s characters walk around with broken hearts in homes “overtaken by feral cats, crickets and stray dogs they invite in like itinerant lovers,” and that many of the stories are “delicately sad.”
“At times while reading ‘Birds of a Lesser Paradise,’ I wished it would send us deeper into the woods, and more fiercely stalk the mysteries that elude us, disturb us, tear us apart,” writes Rosenwaike. “As a first expedition, though, it offers plenty of plumage for us to train our binoculars on, as well as bird calls that force us to stop and listen.”