Bird (Alamo House, 1986; The Boyfriend School, 1986) outdoes herself with this hilarious, deadpan account of a Texan artist's attempt at surrogate motherhood-a warm, wise, and witty comedy by an author who's finally his her stride. Spaced-out San Antonio artist Trudy Herring is no one's idea of a perfect mother. She drifts from one unemployment check to another while creating weird objets d`art from other people's trash (a plastic Christ figure covered with plastic ants, called the Antychrist, for example). Her only regret, in fact, is a promise she made ten years ago: Forced to have an abortion, she vowed to the baby's spirit (nicknamed Sweet Pea) that she'd get her life together someday and bring it back. Now, at 38, Trudy despairs of making good on her guarantee. Salvation appears in the person of Hillary Goettler, Trudy's new boss of the Museum of Folk Art, a woman who dresses spectacularly, lives in a historic San Antonio mansion, is married into one of the city's oldest families and is cursed with infertility. Trudy offers to become a surrogate mother for Hillary, and before she can think twice she's been inseminated, ensconced in the Goettler home, clothed in all-cotton maternity jumpsuits, and crammed full of foul- tasting health-food dinners. Not surprisingly, Trudy and Hillary soon loathe each other, and Trudy begins sneaking out of the mansion to gorge on Mexican good and daydream about Sinclair Coker, the long-gone artist/boyfriend who sired Sweet Pea. At last Trudy finds him again-an overweight ex-gigolo hiding out at a condemned hot-springs spa-and must decide whether to give the new Sweet Pea a life of shallow luxury or one surrounded by questionable art objects, unpredictability and love. A wonderful take, placing Bird squarely among the best of Texas writers.