Every single story had the word bird in it, for some reason

Concordance-mad person that I am, I was interested to see Lorrie Moore’s response to this question –in a Salon interview from the 90’s– about whether the bird imagery in her book of short stories “Birds of America” was planned or “had collected.” (It had collected.)

She says further that she noticed the bird imagery “as she was completing the last two stories”, which makes you wonder if those stories’ bird imagery meaningfully departs from the that of the other stories, when she was less aware of the theme (although “as she was completing” seems to indicate these stoies were in an advanced stage of composition.)

The second to last story seems to have just one glancing mention of birds, though that story’s content is so intense as to not admit much in the way of symbolic embellishment; while the last story is I believe the only one to have a bird as a pet or distinct individual — a cockatiel.

SALON, 1999

How did all the bird imagery fly into these stories — was it planned, or did you just realize at some point that the images had collected?

Lorrie Moore: It’s the latter. It was something I noticed as I was completing the last two stories. And then when I went back and read all the way through, every single story had the word bird in it, for some reason. Sometimes it’s actual birds, sometimes metaphorical birds. I was a little worried about birds as in the British slang “birds.” But it’s there for the taking, I guess.

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