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Mrs. Titelbaum had been a little hurt when Miss Delgado said the red-eyed vireo was the commonest vireo in North America. She did not like to think of her birds as common.
Hollis Summers’ “The Vireo’s Nest” wraps up my Deal Me In 2016 short story project. It’s the second story in a row that features a writing teacher. This one has a certain charm to it but it didn’t grab me like Richard Russo’s “The Whore’s Child” did last week.
The plot has a circular feel to it. A group of students in the Artist’s Colony of Kentucky are being taught by Dr. Thornton. Much to his frustration, circumstances seem to work against his ability to keep his students’ attention.
Bill and Janice sneak off to the woods for an amorous rendevous. Next, several of the older ladies in the class discover the nest mentioned in the title. As they monitor the baby vireo’s, one of the ladies with a darker past destroys a snake. She becomes somewhat of a hero to the older ladies and then we’re back to Bill and his one-track mind.
The darker past and the killing of the snake become the center of the story with humor and light-heartedness surrounding this. A lesser story would have made this transistion jarring; however, Summers makes it a smooth slide to the middle then a pleasant ride out.
This may not be my favorite story of the year but it’s worth reading. “The Vireo’s Nest” is included in my copy of Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories edited by Morris Allen Grubbs. My Deal Me In 2016 list can be found here. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.