An Ornithologist's Guide to Life by Ann Hood

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Ann Hood's edgy short stories, reminiscent of Lorrie Moore and Antonya Nelson, find the surreal in everyday occurrences.

Looking at her characters as if through a pair of binoculars, Ann Hood captures the extraordinary in the ordinary. A pregnant woman left by her husband cooks obsessively to cope with her loss, but never tastes a morsel. In an attempt to stay sober, a young alcoholic seduces her priest and embarks on a tour of caverns with him. An adolescent girl picks up bird-watching as a hobby and, in her newfound habit of observing others, discovers a budding romance between her mother and her neighbor. These stories, many published in The Paris Review, Glimmer Train, Story, and The Colorado Review, are full of characters seeking an escape from their lives while uncovering small moments of understanding that often have huge implications and consequences. They discover that they can only find peace once they stop searching for a way out. Through a set of diverse voices and lively storytelling, Hood creates authentic, personal, secret worlds full of eccentric detail.

About Ann Hood

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Ann Hood was born on December 9, 1956, in West Warwick, R.I. She attended the University of Rhode Island and New York University. For several years, she worked as a flight attendant before pursuing her dream of becoming a writer. Ann Hood had a dream of writing ever since her first "novel" at the age of 11. It was not until 1987, with the publication of Somewhere off the Coast of Maine that she received the recognition she had been longing for. Set in the period from the 1960s to the 1980s, the story deals with the lives of three women of the Vietnam era and their children. Strong on emotion and personal growth, Hood's writing frequently examines the intricacies of various levels of relationships. Other works include Something Blue, which also involves the association between three friends.
Published July 17, 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company. 240 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Men don’t necessarily behave well in these stories, particularly not fathers, who frequently desert or cheat on their wives (pregnant or otherwise), as in “After Zane.” Hood strikes a more elegiac tone in “The Language of Sorrow,” which shows a 78-year-old woman’s memories of her dead son being r...

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