The story is divided into two sections. The first is an omniscient or almost omniscient viewpoint and then after the husband leaves and children are killed the last section is in the viewpoint of the mother, Leonora. The story takes the idea that children are so yummy a person wants to take a bite out of them coupled with the threat that if a child doesn't behave a monster will eat them up. It reminds me when a little boy said about our dog, "I just wish I could lick him." But Leonora is seriously disturbed and has a family history of asylums and suicide. The children, Rosa, Marco, and Dolly fear for their lives and eventually sleep together choosing different beds each night in an attempt to thwart their mother. Her bites began as playful nibbles and have escalated to a voraciousness. Finally, the children and father
"Birdsong from the Radio" was first published in Zoetrope: All-Story and then selected for the O'Henry Prize Stories, 2015.
27 March, 2012
What I really like about this story is that underneath are substantial ideas about life and death and mortality. And, although Pamela dies early in the story, it's not morbid or particularly sad. However, I found myself reiterating my own feelings of mortality and how I want or don't want to be remembered. What do things, items, junk, detritus mean to us and why?
Stony can see value in the old stuff he catalogs yet has difficulty seeing the value in the junk in the old house. We all have our prejudices and our own way of seeing things and we are all continually hypocritical. I used to think it was a human weakness but I'm starting to think being a hypocrite is just a human foible and since we are self-centered beings probably no way around it.
"Property" was first published in Granta and subsequently selected for Best American Short Stories, 2011.
Elizabeth McCracken's web site
Wikipedia page for McCracken