The epigraph for Megan Mayhew Bergman's Birds of a Lesser Paradise
says it all: "We will now discuss in a little more detail the Struggle for Existence." The quote comes from Charles Darwin, a figure that hovers over this collection like a storm cloud; threatening, beautiful, menacing. Close.
Bergman's stories feature women embattled, with themselves, their lovers, their parents, their politics, and with nature. They are, in many ways, hardened women, who speak with the hot blankness of a Lydia Davis character:
"You can keep the silver, he said. And the dining room set. Anything, really."
"I don't care, I said. That stuff only matters to women who need men."
The women, collectively, are in their 30s or older, newly single, soon-to-be-single, living by themselves, with pets, or with their aged parents. In all cases, they are...
Beyond the Book
In Bergman's story "Yesterday's Whales," Lauren faces a tough decision when she discovers she's pregnant. Lauren and her boyfriend Malachi are proponents of "voluntary human extermination," and as such have signed a "No Breeding Pledge." Malachi, in fact, is the founder of a non-profit called Enough with Us, a population control organization modeled after the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT), a group that proposes to "Phase out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed," so that "Earth's biosphere can return to good health."
When we think about human population control in contemporary times, we usually think of government intervention into human reproduction, like China's one-child policy. But since the 1960s, the human population control movement has become...