Monday, March 31, 2008

Review: Kaufman's Flights Against the Sunset

I finished reading Kenn Kaufman's much-anticipated Flights Against the Sunset last night. Overall, it was an enjoyable book chock full of insightful and many times humorous stories set against the backdrop of him visiting his ill mother in the hospital. The book plays out in snippets of interactions with his mother, the history of Kenn and his family, and the birding-related stories. It's kind of a "Mitch Albom meets birding" right down to the small physical size of the book. As Kenn has shown us in Kingbird Highway, he's an outstanding storyteller. He makes you wish you were there with him experiencing what he's experiencing. He also makes you think with his insights on common birding discussions like listing and chasing rarities.

If you've followed Kenn's Birdwatcher's Digest columns over the years, you may see some re-hashed stories because I think many of them came from there. Since I haven't kept up with those, they were mostly new to me. I do have two minor complaints about the book. First, the parts where Kenn is interacting with his mother seemed a bit forced into the story. I had trouble making an emotional connection. But I'm sure this book is a tribute to the author's mother, and who am I to stand against that? My second complaint is not really about the story itself, but the price tag on the book - $24 retail for a small hardcover 240 page book! Yikes!

All in all, if you're a fan of Kenn's writing or just good birding stories, you'll definitely enjoy Flights Against the Sunset.


dguzman said...

Yikes, that's a hefty price tag. Thanks for the review; I might check this out of the library first (kind of like renting a movie first before buying!).

mon@rch said...

I am a big fan of Kaufman's stuff and this looks like something that needs to be added to my library!

Grant McCreary said...

This is a great read. Likewise, the only complaint I have is that it was too short.
But if you enjoy Kaufman's writing (and provided that you haven't already read all of his columns from Bird Watcher's Digest), then you should definitely get this.

Larry said...

I'll have to read it because I liked Kingbird highway so much.-I also enjoy many of his articles that show up in Birdwatcher's Digest.-Thanks for lowering my expectations a bit.-Now I will probably enjoy it more.-I just tell my library to order it then read it.-I guess that's cheating.