Tuesday 11 February 2014

Books about Birders 4: Pelican Blood by Cris Freddi

This is a brilliant novel, set in the world of twitchers (obsessive birdwatchers who are totally prepared to leap on a plane at a moments notice just to see a rare bird).

The narrator of the story is a young, foul mouthed cleaner who sometimes takes the law into his own hands when it comes to dealing with those responsible for crimes against birds (eg egg collectors or landowners who shoot and poison birds of prey). He's in an on-off relationship with Stevie, a young artist who makes a living illustrating bird books and they are joined in many of their bird trips by Bish, a Polish musician.

The book really gets into the obsessions of the birdwatching world (Freddi is himself a twitcher) with details such as:

Bish would pick out a first winter arctic tern in a flock of commons by the translucent triangle on the trailing edge of the upperwing - but anyone can do that.

It also deals with issues including wildlife crime, police brutality, tax evasion, depression, the loss of our wild places and the value of art, without trivialing them and while remaining entertaining throughout.

Definitely recommended, though the eccentric mix of specialised birding knowledge and urban gritty realism may mean it doesn't appeal to everyone.

Pelican Blood by Cris Freddi published by Harper Collins.

 You can read my previous reviews of books about birders by following the links below:

 Birders by Mark Cocker.

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa (a novel) by Nicholas Drayson.

A Bird in the Bush by Stephen Moss.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That sounds interesting -- I'll see if it is available here. I have read some non-fiction books about birders but never a novel.

I was surprised when in a comment on one of my bird posts someone from the UK said "I have never twitched that bird.." (or words to that effect)...I really didn't know what twitch or twitcher meant, but then looked it up! (I only wish I could be a twitcher there!)