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NSSM: “The Birds for Christmas”

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In honor of National Short Story Month, I’m thinking about Mark Richard’s “The Birds for Christmas.”

I recently finished Richard’s new memoir House of Prayer No 2 and some of the scenes in there are clearly familiar to anyone who had read “The Birds.”

My first experience with this great short story came from Mark reading the story outloud to my class. It had only been published in the New Yorker at that point so Mark walked into class with a tattered magazine and welcomed us all into that amazingly quirky and scary children’s ward. I convinced Mark to let me borrow the magazine so I could make a photo copy of “The Birds for Christmas.” And I have taken special care in treating those photocopies over the years.

“The Birds for Christmas” was ultimately published in book form with the eventual release of Charity. And it’s certainly useful to have it in a sturdy book.

But for special occasions, like National Short Story Month, I like to pull out those old yellowed and torn photocopied pages of Marks own copy. It’s a fantastic story that is well-worth your effort in seeking it out to read this month.