From Publishers Weekly
In this intriguing, beautifully illustrated volume, Canadian writer and birder Gibson (Five Legs
) employs poems, folk tales, parables, legends, and extracts from the works of naturalists and others to explore humans' relationship with birds through the centuries. Some of the material—Peter Matthiessen's tribute to shorebirds, Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem about wild swans, Thomas Hardy's ode to a darkling thrush—reflect the joy many people feel on seeing or hearing a bird. But a number of the pieces, such as Robinson Jeffers's wrenching poem about a hurt hawk, Gabriel García Márquez's story involving sinister curlews and Kafka's threatening fantasy about a vulture, do not make the best bedtime reading. Numerous selections dwell on the human propensity for killing, exploitation and cruelty, as exemplified by a grisly passage describing the slaughter of a flock of terrified birds from Gibson's novel Perpetual Motion
. As if to underscore his grim message, Gibson concludes his miscellany with a list of wildlife organizations to join if one is inclined to help avians in peril. The book contains more than 100 stunning full-color images of birds depicted in bestiaries, folk art, ancient sculpture and the works of artists such as Audubon, Lansdowne and Catesby. (On sale Oct. 25)
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What is it about birds that calls to us? Why do humans engage themselves with birds? In an attempt to understand human response to birds, Gibson began to search for texts and illustrations to help explain this fascination. His book is not, as he states, about birds themselves, but rather about the varied relationships humans have established with them. In an eclectic collection of writings that ranges through hundreds of years and across continents, connected by his own essays, Gibson provided glimpses into the bond humans feel with birds. Authors ranging from Ovid to Saki, from Margaret Atwood to traditional tales of the Bahamas, and from David Quammen to Gabriel Garcia Marquez write of birds--as parables, as natural history, as allegory, and as mythic guides. This is a book to dip into during those spare minutes, and the reader will be well rewarded by these glimpses into avian-human relations. Nancy BentCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved