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The Verb 'to Bird': Sightings of an Avid Birderby Peter Cashwell
Synopses & Reviews
All around the world, birds are a subject of intense and even spiritual fascination, but relatively few people see the word "bird" as a verb. Peter Cashwell is one who does. This is a whimsical and critical book about his many obsessions, including birds, birders, language, literature, and pop culture. It begins with an irreverent examination of birding as a historical, cultural, and even religious phenomenon and describes how a thirty-something student of academic and popular culture ends up an active participant in organized bird counts. Birding alone is compared to birding in company, and the pleasures of feeding birds outside are contrasted with the irrational terror of encountering them indoors. It also includes a birder's travelogue in which the author recounts the high (and low) points of trips all around the nation: from Virginia, where geese of unusual size appear out of nowhere, to South Carolina's Low Country, home to some of America's most beautiful birds and most ravenous biting insects; from Long Island, where, against all odds, nature still exists, to the river, city, and state of Iowa, where nomenclature is in short supply.
"Peter Cashwell possesses one of the rarest of all qualities in a nature writer: an intelligent wit. This, combined with a felicitous passion for both language and birds, makes The Verb 'To Bird' a book that will engage even readers who cannot tell a hawk from a handsaw — and may even make a few converts" Robert Finch, co-editor of The Norton Book of Nature Writing
"Reading this book was the next best thing to wandering in the woods with Peter Cashwell hoping to add a rufous-capped warbler to my life list. No, it was better — I could laugh out loud in delight as I turned the pages without fear of scaring the birds." Katharine Weber, author of The Music Lesson
A Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
All around the world, birds are the subject of intense, even spiritual, fascination, but relatively few people see the word bird as a verb. Peter Cashwell is one who does, and with good reason: He birds (because he can't help it), and he teaches grammar (because he's paid to). An English teacher by profession and an avid birder by inner calling, Cashwell has written a whimsical and critical book about his many obsessions — birds, birders, language, literature, parenting, pop culture, and the human race.
Cashwell lovingly but irreverently explores the practice of birding, from choosing a field guide to luring vultures out of shrubbery, and gives his own eclectic travelogue of some of the nation's finest bird habitats. Part memoir, part natural history, part apology, The Verb 'To Bird' will enlighten and entertain anyone who's ever wandered around wet fields at the crack of dawn with dog-eared field guides crushed against the granola bars in their pockets. But you don't have to know the field marks of an indigo bunting to appreciate Cashwell's experiences with non-lending libraries, venomous insects, sports marketing, and animated Christmas specials.
A Barnes & Noble "Discover Great New Writers" Selection for Summer 2003
A Summer Paperback Book Sense 76 Pick
Includes bibliographical references (p. 267-269).
About the Author
Birds first captured PETER CASHWELL's attention when his mother hung an avian mobile over his crib. He was born in Raleigh, N.C., grew up in Chapel Hill, and graduated from the University of North Carolina, where he took every creative writing course permitted by the English department (and one that wasn't). Cashwell has worked at lots of different jobs — radio announcer, rock musician, comic-book critic, improv comedy accompanist. Now he teaches English and speech at Woodberry Forest School in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. He also co-writes "Loose Canons," a column for the Readerville Journal.
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