Monday Text: Mark Richard’s “The Birds for Christmas”

Charles Michael Fischer

Mark Richard’s “The Birds for Christmas” is this week’s Monday Text. Richard is the author of two story collections, The Ice at the Bottom of the Worldand Charity, a novel, Fishboy, and a memoir, House of Prayer #2.

“The Birds for Christmas” appears in Charity and is set at a state charity hospital; the story is loosely based on Richard’s adolescent experiences in Richmond’s Crippled Children’s Hospital, which he covers in House of Prayer #2 (the connections are obvious to anyone who has read both books and followed Richard’s career closely).

I love this story because it was the story that gave me permission to be weird and funny when writing about traumatic experience. Like many young creative writers who come up through the workshop system, I’d convinced myself that the ideal “serious” story was a kind of place-less and straight laced realism (not all realism…

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