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Lift Paperback – November 1, 2009
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"O'Connor's love of the hawks infuses the story with an addictive, violent intensity." --Library Journal
Rebecca O'Connor writes that falconry is a religion; she has found a new and true believer in this vegetarian soul. I love how she explores both the pain and majesty of the natural world and the pain and majesty of a woman's heart. Lift is a thrilling, moving read.
—Gayle Brandeis, author of The Book of Dead Birds and Self Storage
Lift is not simply the story of one woman's desire to understand and control her world through the art of falconry--it is a story of holding on, of letting go, of recognizing and allowing the competing forces in our lives to sustain and shape us. Predator and prey, what is loved and what is hated, what we must accept and what we must reject--each of these dichotomies becomes Rebecca O'Connor's quarry. This memoir is a beautiful and poignant story of love, loss, and redemption. In a landscape that tests her ability to withstand the everyday vigors of survival, O'Connor lets the bird of her heart fly free.
—Kim Barnes, author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country, 1997 Pulitzer Finalist
Rebecca O’Connor is an extraordinary writer who has written a memoir like no other. She beautifully braids the stories of an agonizing childhood, a daughter’s forgiveness, and a tempestuous love affair with a predatory bird. Like her peregrine falcon, O’Connor’s prose is savage and graceful, her narrative filled with breathtaking turns. I could not put this book down—and when I finished, I couldn’t wait to read it again. Lift soars.
—Sy Montgomery, Author of the national bestseller, The Good Good Pig
About the Author
Rebecca K. O’Connor had published essays in South Dakota Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Los Angeles Times Magazine, West, divide, and was a Pushcart Nominee for the 2008 Prize. Her novel, Falcon’s Return was a Holt Medallion Finalist for best first novel and she has published numerous reference books on the natural world. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California, Riverside.
As a professional animal trainer, O’Connor has worked with a variety of exotic animals in zoos and private facilities around the United States and abroad. She has been a falconer for more than a decade and is a nationally known parrot behaviorist. Her book A Parrot for Life: Raising and Training the Perfect Parrot Companion was published in 2007 by TFH and went into a second printing in the first six months. She is also a nationally sought after lecturer at parrot clubs and parrot festivals.
In all of O'Connor’s work she strives to illuminate or foil the human condition through the animals that surround us. Whether it is to give a science-based lecture, write a serious how-to book or crafting deeply personal prose, the foundation of everything in her life is a love for animals. She hopes that her life’s work will help people understand the animals (including other humans) that surround them and relish their relationships.
More About the Author
Living a life dedicated to "birds and words", Rebecca currently works as a full-time freelance writer. Her spare time is invested in falconry, parrots and book projects and she can often be found giving craft talks, workshops and readings around the country.
Rebecca's falconry memoir, LIFT, is an award-winning book about the first season with her first peregrine falcon, Anakin and their adventures hunting near the Salton Sea. It's a book about finding oneself and making amends with the past while seeking freedom in the shadow of a peregrine.
Rebecca hopes that her life's work will somehow help people understand their connection to animals and the earth and to relish it.
Top Customer Reviews
O'Connor has lived a fascinating and singular life... and she writes about it with great good humor, searing honesty, and a writing style that is original, lyrical, breathtaking. I began this book on a Sunday morning, couldn't put it down until I'd finished later that day. I knew nothing of falconry before I started reading this --if anything, I felt a vague distaste for it. Now I understand its power, both visceral and metaphoric, and how the sport honors the hunter and the hunted, nature and our place in it.
If you've appreciated memoirs by Mary Karr or Jeannette Walls, if you enjoy beautiful prose about the natural world, if you have an interest in birds, even if you fit into none of the above categories...do not miss this book. I read several books a week and this easily made it onto my "best of the year" list. I give it my highest recommendation, and hope that Ms. O'Connor (who is so wise and talented despite being so young) writes a companion volume that covers her years as a professional bird trainer and further explores her journey to becoming a master falconer.
Ms. O'Conner writes of her journey training a peregrine falcon, tying it backwards to her not-always-easy life. A history of abuse and poor choices haunt her, and yet - as she supposedly "trains" her falcon - it's clear the training is a two-way street.
Ms. O'Conner trains the falcon how to hunt, and yet the two seemingly train each other how to trust.
Of the two, the latter is far more important, and by the end of the book, I was almost cheering for the pair.
It's good enough that I'm left wondering how the two fare today.
Having an interest in raptors, the front cover caught my eye while walking through the local library, but the back cover quotes brought to mind a book that was perhaps more in the vein of "Chick Lit", a genre I typically side step. Plus, I had just finished "One Man's Owl", a memoir about a captive raised Great Horned Owl, and had a book about Red Taileds cued up for sometime in the future. Enough bird books. A couple of days later, while waiting out a red light in downtown SLC, a peregrine powered across the intersection and landed on a nearby cell phone tower. I'm not an "omen" guy, but the visual did bring "Lift" to mind (BTW - it was a wild bird, probably migrating through). The library copy had since been checked out, so hoping for more falconry, less "emo", I ordered it up.
It was a great read on a lot of different levels. The plentiful falconry details, such as species differences, flying weights, legalities, lures and transmitters, training strategies, etc., all came within the flow of the storyline, as opposed to dry recitation. The author, Rebecca O'Connor, did a nice job of not being overly elementary, while not excluding anyone either. There was, however, a lot more going on in "Lift" than bird X's and O's. The real surprise was the strength of the underlying themes and how they worked to make this book just plain ol' good literature - for any reader of either sex. The major themes have been brought up in other reviews. I'll add dealing with uncertainty and the disappearing western landscape. Hopefully Whitewater hasn't become a memory in the rear view mirror.
From a pure style standpoint, I loved how she didn't overwrite this nugget sized book, and let the story come together in a very natural, unforced way.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
as a falconer this book hit home on so many fronts. Rebecca is an awesome talent both as a falconer and author. Lance wrote a book called it's not about the bike. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Joe
Rebecca O'Connor shares parts of her life in a generous and gentle way. Always dragging the positives to the surface. An inspiring read!Published 17 months ago by Samantha Nupen
Wonderful---One of the best books I have read in a long time. This is a book that is easy to get lost in, once I started reading it I couldn't put it down! Read morePublished 19 months ago by JKM76
I knew nothing about falconry except a vague mythology associated with medieval tales of romance and a PBS special on horsemen of Mongolia who also fly raptors. Read morePublished on January 18, 2014 by Ann Hearn
I am in awe of Rebecca K. O'Connor. The very physical-ness of what she does in hunting with her falcon--and to go from that to sitting at the computer where she takes us on a... Read morePublished on November 12, 2013 by Mae J
It was everything I'd hoped it'd be, and more. A glimpse into what it takes to control the uncontrolable. Read morePublished on August 24, 2013 by Willie Parker
I have just finished Lift, which came yesterday in the mail. I have read very few books in one sitting and I have never read or imagined I would read a book like this in my life. Read morePublished on July 25, 2013 by John Szabo
I. Love. Raptors. Any bird catches my fascination, but most of all the hunters in the sky. I opened this book eager to learn about the profession of falconry, and O'Conner does not... Read morePublished on February 19, 2013 by Aaron Sikes