The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer : Close Encounters with Strangers
5 journalers for this copy...
The first story is charming and O'Henry-esque. Others are touching and sad, funny and interesting, and each comes from a different, unusual perspective--trades and places we don't hear much about. It covers Mother Teresa's Home for the Dying and Destitute, a stripper, a birdwatcher and banana slug afficionado, a Russian Princess in a New York ghetto, fishermen in the Maldives, a bereaved husband in Borneo. This list makes the book sound trite and superficial--it's not. If you are an armchair traveler of the most adventuresome kind, you're bound to relish this book.
You might be interested in Powells' wee little interview with Hansen.
I really enjoyed this book. A series of vignettes, of various length, all brimming with humanity and a warm affection for the amazing variety and quirkiness of life in different parts of the world. The author seems to have an astonishing knack for finding interesting people and getting them to trust him.
the read is light and engaging, and the reader feels slightly more worldly and slightly more fond of humanity by its end. Highly recommended.
CAUGHT IN ITHACA NY USA
Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Ebumu
morpha (USA, ships domestic)
deenbat (USA, wishes to be toward the end)
ldpaulson (USA, wishes to be last)
Lastly, back to me, Ebumu (USA)
Bookring participants, please journal on receipt, then read the book within a reasonable length of time, hopefully not over a month. PM the next person for their address as you're finishing it, and mail it on promptly. Do leave us all a thoughtful or quirky review to enjoy.
The chapter “Life Lessons from Dying Strangers” concludes with the lines, “... I joined this sea of humanity with a calmness, clarity of purpose, and a lightness of being that have never left me.” A nice set of thoughts... but despite the author’s avowed clarity of purpose, I did not get a coherent picture him by reading this book. Perhaps this is incentive to read more of his work (I think I will), but there is a coldness and surrealism to parts of this book that I can only compare to some J.G. Ballard.
This book now flies to Sydney, Australia in the hands of a personal courier, and interesting person in his own right. Let’s see what catsalive makes of this!
Eric Hansen is an intrepid traveler with a keenly perceptive eye and an appreciation for the odd and unusual. He will go anywhere and try anything. Through it all he manages to capture the most revealing conversations and the most transporting moments in his travels, from the Maldives to Sacramento, from Cannes to Borneo and far beyond.
Hansen writes about the mind-altering experience of drinking kava in Vanuatu and about heartrending moments working at Mother Teresa's Home for the Dying Destitute in Calcutta. He joins a grieving husband searching for his dead wife's wedding ring at a crash site in the Borneo rain forest. He recounts his miraculous survival od Cyclone Tracy on a fishing boat off the north coast of Australia, and he befriends an elderly Russian woman who would prepare catered dinners for George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky in her tiny Manhattan kitchen while drug dealers were shot to death in the downstairs lobby. He spends time with an ornithologist who studies endangered ants and the sex lives of banana slugs - and takes topless dancers on bird-watching expeditions.
Each essay is a passionate experience of life refracted through the eyes and voice of a singularly evocative and original writer.
I've only read the first couple but I have to agree that they are evocative. I loved the first one "Arlette and Madame Perruche".
Apart from "Arlette and Madame Perruche", my favourite vignettes were "Life Lessons from Dying Strangers", "Cooking with Madame Zoya" and "The Ghost Wind". The people in these stories are wonderful. I love that the Dewa Ruci won and can see why Hansen had to ask himself, "Who made this movie?"
I would read more of his writing if it came my way because the people he meets are worth reading about.
Thanks, Ebumu. I'll be sending this to alwaysmiling tomorrow.
It is hoped that one day soon this book will get the chance to return to its planned bookring travels and will once again check in with all of us with a journal entry.