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Fall of the Birds (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Bradford Morrow
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $1.99

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Book Description

A new novella by acclaimed author Bradford Morrow about a man who tracks an inexplicable plague of bird deaths, and the mystery’s profound effect on his family

Hundreds of red-winged blackbirds are discovered scattered, lifeless, around a greenhouse in Warwick, New York. Heaps of common grackles litter the fields of a farm upstate near Stone Ridge. And in Manhattan, a Washington Square restaurant is forced to close its doors when a flock of pigeons inexplicably dies on the sidewalks out front. From Pennsylvania to Maine, birds are falling from the sky en masse—and nobody can figure out why.

An insurance claims adjuster and avid birder is one of the first to recognize that something is wrong. His stepdaughter, Caitlin, has also noticed—their common interest in birds is one of the few things they share these days, since her mother died of cancer just six months ago. As they travel the Northeast together to investigate the ominous deaths, a bond forms that might prove strong enough to mend their broken family.

Fall of the Birds is a moving story of a haunting near-future and a tribute to the power of love that can survive even the most harrowing of circumstances.

“Morrow . . . is a mesmerizing storyteller who casts an irresistible spell.” —Joyce Carol Oates

“Literary fiction [is Morrow’s] particular, individual gift.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Morrow is a landscape painter of contemporary fiction; like his counterparts of a century ago, he evokes a certain mood and even momentum . . . by the scenes he chooses.” —The Boston Globe

Bradford Morrow is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, editor, and author of children’s books. He grew up in Colorado and traveled extensively before settling in New York and launching the renowned literary journal Conjunctions. His novel The Almanac Branch was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award , and for Trinity Fields, Morrow was the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Academy Award in Literature. He has garnered numerous other accolades for his fiction, including O. Henry and Pushcart prizes, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship. Morrow is a professor of literature and Bard Center Fellow at Bard College.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's spring in New England, and birds are dying en masse. Teenager Caitlin and her step-father--a widower, insurance-claims processor, and the first-person narrator of Bradford Morrow's Fall of the Birds--are flummoxed. They are avid birdwatchers, and the disturbing trend of mass bird-deaths quickly becomes a prism through which they examine their evolving relationship in the wake of her mother's death. ("Caitlin and I were like stray moons who'd lost their host planet and were flying blind, wobbling as we went.") As the birds continue to die inexplicably, Morrow's tale portrays sorrowful depths, filial love, and human resilience with a language that maintains an impressively delicate balance: impassioned yet elegant, gravid yet light, studied but never unapproachable. Ultimately, and to its credit, the story adheres to a human/animal metaphor as bluntly constructed as Sherwood Anderson's "The Egg," for as Morrow's narrator says: "Canaries were taken into coal mines for good reason. The fate of birds is our fate." --Jason Kirk

Product Details

  • File Size: 900 KB
  • Print Length: 35 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media Short Shots (October 30, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0061SF244
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,288 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(16)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Listen to, learn from the birds November 9, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"So, what's with the robins this spring?" Caitlan asks. It's mid-April in the Hudson River Valley, a week before her seventeenth birthday, and the robins always return before her birthday.

So where are they? What about the bird feeder? It hasn't had any visitors for weeks? And where's the morning birdcall, the normal "chip and chant, twitter and gurgle, slur and rasp" that greets the sunrise?

In "The Fall of the Birds," as in any good yarn the suspense builds incrementally, uncertainty then unease gradually give way to menace and dread that becomes the fear that things are going to get really bad.

The narrator of "Fall of the Birds," is a insurance company claims adjuster. Caitlan is his stepdaughter. They're both grieving the recent death of Caitlan's mother. Both stepfather and stepdaughter are birders, knowledgeable about the birds around them and keen observers of avian habits and habitats.

When for no explainable reason birds begin dropping from the sky like gilded stones and when vagrant species of birds not normally seen anywhere near the Northeast begin congregating outside the window, the world seems to have titled on its axis and the alarm becomes palpable.

We're reminded that canaries went down into the mines for good reason and ultimately we're asked to consider if what's happening to the birds is a harbinger for humans. It's something unbalancing, a cause for unease.

Morrow's style to some may seem fussy. His vocabulary often relies on words such as palaver, vicissitudes and macadam. In his Amazon review (above) Jason Kirk says Morrow's language is "gravid yet light." The story is written in the first person. It's a good choice for a voice that's eloquent, descriptive.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fall of the Birds November 21, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Each spring the robins arrived by Caitlan's birthday, but this year there wasn't a robin in sight. The bird feeder hung full, but with no bird visitors pecking away at the sunflower seeds. Caitlan was almost seventeen, but she was an avid birder, along with her stepfather and her late mother, who had died a little over six months ago. Caitlan loved birds so much that she had finches of her own that she kept, and she was meticulous about their care, keeping some of them in a beautiful Victorian bird cage that her grandfather had given her.

The stepfather was a claims adjustor for an insurance company and this day he was called out to a situation at a nursery where circumstances were "weird" according to his boss. When he arrived, he saw that what had happened was nowhere near normal, that there were dead red-winged blackbirds everywhere on the ground, and even crashed through the roof of the nursery's greenhouse. It was as if they had stopped in mid-air, died and had fallen to the ground. The adjustor happened to think that on his trip to the nursery, he hadn't seen a single bird at all. He remembered that there had been several cases of flocks of birds dying like this in Texas, and there were several theories why that happened, but none was ever settled on as a cause.

This Kindle Single by Bradford Morrow is a lovely piece of writing that centers not only around birds, but around love, death and hope. Caitlan and her stepfather take an extended trip where they see even more flocks of birds that have died, but things look up for Caitlan as her birthday approaches and as she and her stepfather become closer in a father-daughter relationship. They begin to rise out of the depths of their mourning and some beautiful signs of hope begin to appear.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful !! December 17, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I totally and completely LOVED this novella! Totally loved it, with fangirling delight and cherries on top and all xDDD

The story itself is incredibly touching, I instantly irreversibly loved Caitlin and her step-dad, and Laurel too, because of how much they loved her and suffered after her passing. I was actually amazed of how intense an emotional roller-coaster this novella was, I mean these 30 something pages pack an incredible punch! I was very close to tears all over the place; admittedly, topics revolving around birds are sort of delicate for me. I mean, as a symbol, I love birds; they're these magical creatures that link the ground we stomp on to the skies we pray to, they're beautiful creatures. And they do have the odd habit of showing up at the most emotionally charged moments, swirling in the sky with that grace that only they have and giving you the precious seed of hope and maybe tranquility.
That's what a solitary bird makes me think about, a couple dancing together in the sky, the most. Bigger numbers of them give me the instant flashback of some horrible The Birds scene that I accidentally glanced at when I was a kid. I don't know what that movie is about and I don't want to find out, those scenes gave me so many nightmares when I was a kid, I want to ignore its very existence. Just like that other nightmare of mine, the Pennywise clown from It? I'll never get this whole culture of fear thing, I'm sorry. Ranted, apologies.

This novella therefore manages to make me completely love it though, staring birds, there's a huge freak-out potential in it for me; this speaks to the mastery of Bradford Morrow's writing, I think. The writing style is absolutely beautiful, I loved every single word, each phrase, every last bit of it really, and it's a rare occurrence.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother.
What a disappointment! An interesting premise, the sudden mysterious deaths of many different species of birds was never resolved. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Cathy L.
3.0 out of 5 stars a nice short story
This was my first Kindle short story. It is not something I would normally read. The story is well written and easy to follow. I thought it fell short of defining the title.
Published 18 months ago by Boudreaux
2.0 out of 5 stars None
Beautifully written but odd cliffhanging ending. Plus ten percent of the total work is dedicated to self-annotated pictures of the author, which not only doesn`t make sense but is... Read more
Published 19 months ago by PB
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative and Visual
After this novella I'm both a fan of this writer and the "shorts" that are now available for eBooks. Disturbing in many ways, but also intriguing. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Umba
4.0 out of 5 stars A great story, but it feels too short
Waves of birds are dying - quite literally dropping dead en masse, with no rhyme or reason to the deaths. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Josh Mauthe
5.0 out of 5 stars Thin Line Between Poetry and Prose
The difference between poetry and prose thins in this book to almost nothingness. This story is written in a masterful style, flowing along so easily, so beautifully, that one... Read more
Published on June 3, 2012 by Carla C. Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this graceful, eloquent novella
This novella starts with the simple observation of Caitlin, a not-so-simple teenager - "So what's with the robins this spring?" They're not there, she explains. Read more
Published on May 7, 2012 by Pickfordm
4.0 out of 5 stars Too Wordy--but Worth it
I didn't know of the author's acclaimed background when I bought this for my Kindle (mainly because it sounded intriguing and was cheap). Read more
Published on April 19, 2012 by Loves to Read
3.0 out of 5 stars Fall of the Birds
There were aspects I liked, but I was expecting more at the end. As far as I was concerned, it just left you hanging regarding the birds. Read more
Published on March 19, 2012 by Heavenly
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful novella with a significance far outweighing its size
This is a powerful novella-- memories of the past, revelations about the present, and a determined resolve concerning the future all woven into thirty-five pages. Read more
Published on January 22, 2012 by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Bradford Morrow has lived for the past thirty years in New York City and rural upstate New York, though he grew up in Colorado and lived and worked in a variety of places in between. While in his mid-teens, he traveled through rural Honduras as a member of the Amigos de las Americas program, serving as a medical volunteer in the summer of 1967. The following year he was awarded an American Field Service scholarship to finish his last year of high school as a foreign exchange student at a Liceo Scientifico in Cuneo, Italy. In 1973, he took time off from studying at the University of Colorado to live in Paris for a year. After doing graduate work on a Danforth Fellowship at Yale University, he moved to Santa Barbara, California, where he worked as a bookseller until relocating to New York City in 1981, where he began editing the literary journal "Conjunctions" and writing novels.

His first five novels--"Come Sunday" (1988), "The Almanac Branch" (1992, PEN/Faulkner Award finalist), "Trinity Fields" (Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, 1995), "Giovanni's Gift" (1997) and "Ariel's Crossing" (2002)--are all available as e-books from Open Road Media from January 25, 2011.

In collaboration with eighteen artists, Morrow is the author of "A Bestiary," as well as a book for children, "Didn't Didn't Do It," illustrated by the legendary Gahan Wilson. Morrow has also edited and written a number of other books, including "Posthumes" (poetry), "The New Gothic" (with Patrick McGrath) and "The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth" (with Sam Hamill) and has contributed to many anthologies and journals. As founding editor of "Conjunctions," he has edited over 55 volumes of the journal from 1981 to the present. An anthology on death, "The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death," co-edited with David Shields, will be published by W.W. Norton in February 2011.

His new novel, "The Diviner's Tale," is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the U.S. and in England with Corvus (Atlantic), as well as an audiobook with Blackstone. His first collection of short stories, "Lush," will be published in Fall 2011 by Pegasus Books. He is completing work on his seventh novel, "The Prague Sonata," as well as a book of creative nonfiction works, "Meditations on a Shadow."

Morrow's many awards include an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, O. Henry and Pushcart Prizes, as well as the PEN/Nora Magid Award. He has taught at Princeton, Columbia, and Brown Universities and for the past twenty years has been a Bard Center Fellow and professor of literature at Bard College.

Visit his website at www.bradfordmorrow.com.

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