Winner of the 2003 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction
Synopses & Reviews
In the years since Chris Chester and his wife Rebecca rescued a featherless baby bird—a creature with all the initial appeal of "a testicle with a beak" —they’ve had plenty of time to consider and reconsider their eccentric lifestyle. The upstairs floor of their home in Portland has become an indoor aviary. There is B’s room, which he shares with a varying number of finches; the canary room; and the room housing the three subsequent foundling sparrows they’ve adopted: Baby, Pee Wee, and Seven. There are screen doors mounted in the doorways, congruent with "the Appalachian-themed decor." They’ve learned sparrow games like "War Bird," "Love Bird," and "Hit the Cap." Since the birds’ bedtime rituals alone take an hour or more each night, the couple’s social life has suffered a decline.
But along the way the Chesters have also learned a great deal about the natural history of birds, and even more about that maligned avian species, the House Sparrow. And with this knowledge has come gratitude. For it is through B and the rest of this unorthodox family that Chester has discovered a renewed capacity for joy and wonder and an expanded realization of the consciousness and intelligence in living things. A book filled with acerb wit, frequent references to literature both high and low, and genuine reverence for the life around him, Providence of a Sparrow is Chris Chester’s beautiful meditation on life with B.
"Chester offers us a curiosity, a contemplation, a substantive diversion into the providence of a remarkable creature named B. If Thoreau had not gone to the woods, but had instead invited a sparrow into his house, he might have written this book instead of Walden."—Ron Carlson, author of At the Jim Bridger: Stories
"Providence of a Sparrow is a charming and touching memoir, a welcome addition to the venerable literature treating the love between animals and people. At the same time, it is a thoughtful look at the study of consciousness and the search for meaning in life, and its rational approach will appeal to even the skeptical non-bird-lover."—Alison Baker, author of Loving Wanda Beaver: Novella and Stories
About the Author
Chris Chester is an electronics technician and writer. He lives in Portland, Oregon.