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Mariposa Road: The First Butterfly Big Year Hardcover – September 27, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
This book recalls Pyle's picaresque classic Chasing Monarchs: Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage, in which Pyle wrote of his adventures trailing the monarch butterfly's annual migration from north to south. There as here, his gentle observations about the people and places along the way and his low-budget travel (mostly with the same decades-old Honda Civic) blend with enthusiastic descriptions of his time in the field and the lovely insects he finds there. But at over 500 pages, Mariposa Road is a lot longer than Chasing Monarchs. While both books are basically chronological accounts of various events that happen until the end point is reached, but Chasing Monarchs seemed pleasingly digressive and as Mariposa Road goes on, the same charming style begins to make the book seem shapeless.Read more ›
Now, butterfly spotting sounds like one of those activities that is a lot of fun to participate in, but not quite as fascinating to watch or hear about, like fishing or golf. So I decided up front that I would not hesitate to skim over parts of Mariposa Road if I felt like it. It would be like taking a nap in the back seat every now and then while the road trip continued.
At over 500 pages, there was still a lot of road trip to enjoy even without the butterfly details. Pyle knows people all over the country and used his tight budget as an excuse to drop in on many of his friends, relatives, and friends of friends. He documented his microbrewery intake nearly as faithfully as his butterfly sightings. No lite beers and very little fast food, not when there are hole-in-the-wall diners and one-of-a-kind pubs all across this vast nation. But how to keep to the budget? Easy, my friends - camping. And this was not renting a cabin at Yosemite type camping, no sir. Pyle slept in his ancient hatchback, parked in WalMart parking lots, and cleaned up where and when he could. Sometimes he couldn't, like the time he traipsed the outback of Alaska, and was counting on grabbing his first shower in a week just before he boarded a plane back to Washington. But it didn't work out that way, to the likely dismay of his seatmates on the flight.Read more ›
That may sound like a very specialized book, but although I'm a nature lover I don't know much about butterflies and I had very few mental images when he'd mention a new species. I don't think you need to be a lepidopterist to enjoy the book--the author also tells about his travels and meals and beers and encounters with friends and lawmen (when sleeping in his car). And he tells his story with obvious intelligence and dry wit, with many music references and passing thoughts which will make you laugh if you catch their meaning.
It is certainly a long book since it covers a year's worth of travels, but it's not as if there is a complicated plot or a lot of characters you have to remember. You don't have to read this nonstop, and I suspect it's more enjoyable if you don't. As the author did, take some time off between trips and appreciate them more. The world needs more people like Mr. Pyle.
I kind of got the idea that this book would be more about the adventure of catching butterflies from the author's perspective rather than the subject of butterflies itself. While I respect the author's passion and knowledge regarding butterflies, it became monotonous reading about all the little details of his trip.
I'm sure there are others who love butterflies who would enjoy reading about the author's road trip. But at over 500 pages it was a bit too much for me. I wasn't interested enough to read about all the nuances of his long trip.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Finished reading Mariposa Road yesterday. Pan, what an odyssey! The complex shapeliness a year’s adventures make -- plan and chance weaving a year (and book) – full of landscapes,... Read morePublished 9 months ago by W. E. Yake
Overall, I liked 'Mariposa Road,' though not quite so much as some people might.
The book is well-written, with a functional narrative that waxed poignant or funny at... Read more
For years, some hard core birders have attempted to see how many species of birds they could see in one calendar year. Mr. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Daniel Thompson
Thus far the book has been captivating. I'm a butterfly hunter as well and am eagerly following Pyle's trek across the country and back again and again. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Ken Wilson
Loved the fact that he included the plants, trees etc. in each area that attracted the butterflies--so if you went to the locations you would know what to look for to help you... Read morePublished on May 31, 2014 by Anita L. Simonsen
This is not a butterfly book or a travel book but a good book about traveling and seeing butterflies; a travelogue of sorts. Read morePublished on March 1, 2014 by friebanjo
Rec'd.on time in brand new condition. This one goes next to Peterson and Fisher's Wild America in my library. These are the two greatest books I've read over the last 50 years!Published on June 24, 2013 by thomas d. mason
Wonderful writing. The book is a knockout adventure even without the butterflies! It's personal,witty and compelling in its descriptions of the back corners of America.I Loved it!Published on December 2, 2012 by PASH