Leigh Buchanan Bienen: Works

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Title: The Left-Handed Marriage: Stories
: Leigh Buchanan Bienen
Publisher: Ontario Review Press
Description: Leigh Buchanan Bienen has published short fiction in TriQuarterly, The Mississippi Review, Ontario Review, the O. Henry Awards anthology, and elsewhere. An attorney whose areas of expertise include capital punishment, sex crimes, and rape reform legislation, she has published books and articles on these subjects and is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at Northwestern University. The Left-Handed Marriage is her first book of fiction.

This book includes the following stories:

  • My Life as a West African Gray Parrot
  • To China [Chinese version available Download PDF]
  • The Circus Comes to Kampala
  • The Left-Handed Marriage
  • After Chekhov
  • We Are All Africans
  • The First Secretary
  • My Mothers’ Lovers
  • He Was a Big Boy, Still Is
  • Technician



Leigh Buchanan Biene’s stories are wise and accomplished. Yet what most distinguishes them is their variety. Here is an imagination that goes to entire territories that other contemporary writers, no matter how good, have not visited. Whether writing from the point of view of a West African parrot, or offering a Dreiserian rendering of the life of a present-day executioner, Bienen presents a vision distinguished by its range and supported by powerful narrative gifts. Each of the stories in The Left-Handed Marriage is gripping in its own way. —Scott Turow

A stunning book by a stunningly gifted writer. With the fearlessness of a first-rate lawyer (which she also is), Leigh Buchanan Bienen renders intimately and brilliantly, the basic truths: life and death, good and evil. Within forcibly formed worlds of actual and real power, each remarkable story in the Left-Handed Marriage burns bright—strikes deep—in the heart of what makes us distinctly human. —Lawrence Joseph

The stories of Bienen’s first book demonstrate an eye for detail and nuance in human relationships and cultural differences. In the story that lends its title to the collection, a charming and affable, if self-absorbed, lawyer agrees to his wife’s suggestion that he take a second, younger wife, who can give him a son. She has dreamy recollections of time spent in Kenya, where she met the European first wife of a Kenyan who thereafter practiced his culture’s time-honored tradition of polygamy, in which the European wife managed to thrive, nevertheless. In New York, the story’s setting, however, an analogous arrangement fails to satisfy. In another story, a world-weary, cynical account of life and lost affections, an aging parrot notes his latest owner’s growing negligence and recalls past relationships and travails. In further stories, the journal of a dance troupe member visiting China reveals telling cultural and personal differences, and the cultural mixture of a seedy gypsy circus in politically turbulent Kampala enables insights into anonymity and emotional confusion. —Vanessa Bush © American Library Association. All rights reserved

[M]ost of the stories are as engaging and satisfying as a novel…marks the arrival of a new talent. —Washington Post Book World, Jennifer Greenstein, 5 August 2001

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