You can buy How to Be a Better Birder at iuniverse.com
|by Michael A. Ketover (Honduras 199395; Guyana 199596; Crisis Corps/ Dominican Republic 1999)
Writers Club Press, an imprint of iUniverse.com, Inc., $11.95
Review by Laura McClure (Togo 199799)
|PERHAPS THE METAPHOR was unintended. Perhaps the topic of birding is a straightforward one, and better birding a clean conceptual line, and this slim book just a travelers log of mental snapshots of . . . birds.
To be sure, there are all the bird sightings one would expect of an anthology that titles itself How To Be A Better Birder. If jabiru storks are your bird, you can find them here, jostling for attention with Bali mynahs, lime green parrots, fairy terns, wattled jacanas, and three kinds of heron. Ketover describes them all in the sun-drenched colors of the tropics.
But the anthologys real subjects are the countries where these birds are found: Tonga, Guyana, Kenya, Nepal. Other countries remain unnamed and some are the countries of dreams (because not all his stories are non-fiction).
Through travel and NGO work assignments, Ketover has come to know Tongan churches, Carribean pesticide usage, and Masai female circumcision rites and he shares opinions of them all.
Like the birds Ketover seeks, cultural truths are elusive. How does one hear the individual through the political noise of a place? By being quiet and observant. By being, in short, a better birder.
Ketovers sharp eye leads us to many an interesting view. So while its possible to finish this book still not knowing how to spot a jabiru stork, you will gain a fresh perspective on some controversial topics, some spicy stories from foreign lands, and perhaps even a brush-up course on how to observe.
Heres hoping youll be a better birder too.
|Laura McClure is a Peace Corps Recruiter and free lance writer. She lives in San Francisco.