Review: A Supremely Bad Idea

by Luke Dempsey

This is a entertaining memoir of an ex-pat Brit who lives in New York City and discovers birding as an adult. ‘Aww, you say, sounds like a nice story,’ and it is. All is not rosy and cozy, however, so prepare for some brutal truths along with the hilarious antics and moving meditations from this marvelous writer and editor.

From the beginning, I was hooked, just like the author became enthralled by birds after friends pointed out a few birds on a weekend visit. Through the next few years, he becomes more and more involved in the hobby and starts to travel to see birds with his kooky birding buddies.

Many of the places they visit will be familiar to traveling birders, making it even more fun to read about the trips. On their trip to Texas, for instance, they visit San Antonio and stop at Schaezler’s Warbler Woods, and they go on to Guadalupe State Park to see Golden-cheeked Warblers.

Dempsey’s language references are especially entertaining, especially if you’re familiar with colloquial English (from England), as his good humor is challenged over and over by unfortunate circumstances, both natural and manmade. There is a small amount of bad language, but most was appropriate to the situation.

His love for his children shines through and is a little bittersweet, given the situation. But it doesn’t become sappy or drag the story, and there is certainly enough sarcasm to go around.

Speaking of sarcasm, the author doesn’t pull punches when describing locations he didn’t enjoy, so some readers may be offended if their part of the country is disparaged. However, it was easy for me to attribute this to the author’s own bias, he being a long-time New York City-dweller. After all, who wouldn’t LOVE to live there? (sputter, sputter)


© Jan McClintock of We Need More Shelves

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