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The Butterfly Hunter: Adventures of People Who Found Their True Calling Way Off the Beaten Path
Synopses & Reviews
Do we each have a dream job that we are, by nature or nurture, uniquely meant for? To answer this question, Chris Ballard set out to talk to people who found work they love way off the beaten path. The Butterfly Hunter is a rollicking narrative of what he discovered, and reveals insights the rest of us can use to find passion in our work.
The Butterfly Hunter begins its roundup of quirky characters in unusual professions with Spiderman Mulholland, a former Marine, who rappels to suicidal spots on sheer building faces to assess damage or make repairs. (And yes, thats his legal name.) Through Spiderman, Ballard learns that one can find a calling by following ones wildest idiosyncrasies. Along the way he learns the history of window-washing, why it is that some people enter risky professions, and the best way to jump off a 230-foot building.
His adventures continue as he meets Americas top lumberjill, an NFL kicking coach who has never kicked a ball in his life, a MacArthur genius whos spent his life in remote jungles chasing butterflies, and the movie trailer voice-over artist known as the Voice of God.
These ten characters each reveal an aspect of the search for a lifes work, and reaffirm for Ballard that we, too, can discover a calling if only we look in the right place. As with true love, there arent seven steps to finding it, but The Butterfly Hunter teaches us what it looks like when its real.
"With wit and style, former Sports Illustrated staffer Ballard (Hoops Nation) profiles 10 people who found their life's work in highly unusual jobs. Although Ballard acknowledges that an engaging occupation doesn't guarantee happiness, he believes that having a calling brings meaning to life. And some of his subjects have achieved wealth and success through their work: Don LaFontaine, considered the master of voiceovers, has recorded trailers for over 3,500 films. Penny Halvorson, a 45-year-old grandmother, was the first woman to participate in lumberjack competitions; she has won four world championships. Doug Blevins has cerebral palsy and has never walked, yet he has become an outstanding football coach, working with the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. Wisely, in Blevins's story, Ballard finds not sentimental inspiration but passion in pursuing a dream 'because it is the one thing that can give... life meaning.' The strength of this exploration lies in its offering not generalities or formulas for success but specific truths behind individual choices. And in a funny introduction, Ballard describes his own failure to become a vacuum cleaner salesman." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The book won't tell you how to go about finding your dream job — for that you need luck, inspiration, and a willingness to step out of the mainstream — but it may just inspire you to start looking." David Pitt, Booklist
"Chris Ballard's vibrant collection of true stories about passionate men and women doing oddball things for a living — and loving it — is the ideal elixir for anyone mired in the daily grind and wishing for a way out. The literary equivalent of a pair of battery cables, this book will jumpstart the dreams of anyone who reads it." Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City
"The Butterfly Hunter offers an important reminder in these risk-averse, mass-marketed times: One person's weird is another's passion. Chris Ballard's subjects are lucky to have found their callings — and we?re lucky to have these inspiring, affectionate, well-crafted portraits of them." Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak
About the Author
After a string of oddball jobs, Chris Ballard found his calling at Sports Illustrated as a staff writer covering the NBA and writing features. He has written profiles of people with offbeat professions for the New York Times Magazine and is the author of Hoops Nation, which was named one of Booklist?s Top Ten Sports Books of 1998. Ballard recently moved from New York City to Berkeley, California.
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