'Mouthful of Birds' offers absurd and troublesome tales

“Sometimes loneliness makes the loudest noise.”― Aaron Ben-Ze'ev

Never underestimate the power of a short story. The length is never indicative of the power and psyche kicking fury a tale will have. Our latest read examines the decline of humanity and society with a harsh brutality. It tells violent and dark, almost fairytales with a profoundly disconcerting ease.

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin

Samanta Schweblin’s collection of jarring short stories, “Mouthful of Birds,” feels a bit like a disconcerting dream. Each story, while encompassing vastly different narratives, maintains a dark undercurrent of violence that leaves readers with a prickle of dread along their scalp. Some stories like “The Merman” and “The Digger” are at first glance absurdly strange but leave readers with a sense of unease. Other tales like “Mouthful of Birds” and “Heads Against Concrete” startle the reader through the aggressive nature of the violence while also presenting it in a way that leaves the characters slightly befuddled. “Preserves” in particular is a notable tale that follows a medical procedure that turns back the clock on a woman’s pregnancy when she and her partner find that they are not quite ready to bring a child into the chaos of the world.

In her collection violence is both feared and celebrated, it is distilled in such a captivatingly unsettling manner that readers will find themselves compelled to keep turning the page as their subconscious chews upon Schweblin’s eerie depiction of a receding sense of civilization. The book was published on Jan. 7.

From the book jacket

The brilliant stories in Mouthful of Birds burrow their way into your psyche and don’t let go. Samanta Schweblin haunts and mesmerizes in this extraordinary collection featuring women on the edge, men turned upside down, the natural world at odds with reality. We think life is one way, but often, it’s not — our expectations for how people act, love, fear can all be upended. Each character in Mouthful of Birds must contend with the unexpected, whether a family coming apart at the seams or a child transforming or a ghostly hellscape or a murder.

If you enjoy…

Readers who enjoy the absurd elements of “Mouthful of Birds” may also enjoy Rafeal Bob-Waksberg’s collection of short stories, “Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory.” His collection effortlessly maneuvers between biting wit and a profound reflection on the highs and lows of relationships with humor.