A Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders And Their Quest To See It All, by Luke Dempsey
Unfortunately, this book has a rather click-baity title that does not fully express the dorkiness of the author and his associates or the amount of whininess the author manages to summon about many areas of life. If you want an adequate preparation for this book, you need to think of this book as a collected series of travelogues written by someone who fancies themselves to be funny but is misantrhopic and far too leftist to be a suitable commentator on what he sees, a common affliction among writers in our age . The author presents himself as a British expatriate who got a green card through ten years of marriage and, in the breakup of that marriage, fills the void of his life through watching birds. There is a sense of sadness and pathos to his search for new birds, but overall the book tries to frame the author and a married couple he travels with as being somehow more edgy and cool than they really are. It’s easy to see why the author wants to be thought of as cool, even in a crazy or odd way, but the author doesn’t strike me as out of the ordinary at all in having an interest that leads him to travel or to push himself, as that is a common interest.
The structure of this book is generally chronological in nature, but also geographically defined, as the author begins by talking about a moment of epiphany when a walk near the yard of a Pennsylvania house of his led him to appreciate some birds and think that maybe it would be good to go out of one’s way to see them. The rest of the book consists of the author making trips to various places to see birds: the Northeast, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and Colorado, during which the author manages to look down on people he deems as “pregnants” (for being overweight) and even manages to appeal to a drug trafficking jackal on the Rio Grande that he is on his side as opposed to the people against illegal immigration that he only views with scorn and contempt. The author is at his best when he talks about his love of viewing birds, and at his worst when he talks about his misanthropic view of other people. Sadly, there is too much hostility here to other people and not enough of his love of birds to make this a truly enjoyable read.
When one reads this book, it is pretty easy to be sympathetic to the poor birds that people flock after, and puzzled by the way that some people simply list the birds that they have seen and show a great deal of hostility towards others based on their practices. The author here frequently shows himself to be a social justice warrior, among the most tiresome of people to see, experience, or read about, and appears to view this as a good thing rather than as a bad thing. It is little wonder, then, that so many of the author’s interactions with other people seem to go badly. His two closest friends seem to be rather odd, teasing him continually about what tomato products he likes and does not like, and the book as a whole is often quite crass, as it when it talks about two amorous pugs and the biting habits of chiggers. At times it appears that the only thing that saves this jerk from jail is the patience and longsuffering of local police who see that the author is merely clueless and self-absorbed and not someone who is an active security risk in photographing things that obviously are none of his business, like the large amount of prisons that have amazing bird-sighting opportunities nearby. Unfortunately, clueless leftists do not make the most enjoyable books on anything.
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