The Bookcase by Frank Scoblete
The Delightful Horror of Family Birding by Eli J. Knapp
Americans are not big buyers of books loaded with short stories, essays or multiple poems presented to us by somewhat obscure poets. Actually in America just about all poets, except for the ones taught in high school and college classes, are obscure.
I can’t speak for Europeans, who are constantly speaking about themselves, but the American literary market shuns big books loaded with short pieces. Magazines, the sacred shrines of the short piece, are dying now but short stories and books of essays have already dug their graves.
Even in the world of nature writing and, yes, even within our particular focus with birds, we tend to like our feed-grain to be of one type per book. Give us a tale that hangs together from beginning to end and we are satisfied if the tale can hold our interest. Yes, some birders will buy encyclopedic books about birds but those books must contain pictures for the reader to stay interested. Give me a full book about owls (thank you very much), but not one about various readers’ appreciation of what they are individually experiencing with those owls.
Now this predilection for longer pieces has pushed to the side those books that contain enlightening, entertaining, and important information that can delight us if we only give such works a chance to tickle our fancy.
One such book, composed of wonderful essays, (don’t you dare stop reading this article because I used the word “essays”) is by Eli J. Knapp and is titled The Delightful Horror of Family Birding. Knapp is a college professor and a bird lover since his youth when he encountered his first birds. More important, this man is a father opening the world of nature and of birds to his soon-to-be-savvy children.
Now, most books that feature children can be vacuous since most kids are dull, at least in my opinion, and their great discoveries are rather pedantic. Today our children would rather watch a sunset on their phones than in the actual sky. Not so with Knapp’s children. His kids are looking at the world because they are in the world.
Knapp’s essays often speak powerfully about the beauty inherent in birds and, of course, in the natural world and his kids happily pick up on that. It is fascinating to watch a parent lead his children to an appreciation of the rich world around them.
The book is funny; the essays hang together with crisp, sharp language and imagery. I think you will find the “horror” of family birding to be anything but horrible. Give it a try.
Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books and in bookstores.