Algonquin Paperbacks - Nonfiction/Memoir
308 fun-filled pages
Self-interview time because I'm bored with myself. I just am. This time, I take the lead. Or I takes the lead. Or . . . well, whatever.
I: What possessed you to acquire a book with a duck on the cover?
Myself: A moment of insanity?
I: Bad start. Be serious, now.
Myself: Okay, then. I have no earthly idea how I found this book. I placed it on my wish list due to a recommendation by some stranger or blogger or alien, somewhere, and eventually acquired a copy. It's possible that it was one of those, "If you like this book, you'll love --" suggestions. Those things can get you into terrible trouble, but I've discovered some interesting reads because of chain suggestion ("If you like this then you'll like that; and if you like that then let me show you these . . . ").
I: So, tell us about the book without getting all weird and going off on tangents. And, no quacking.
Myself: (???) Enslaved by Ducks tells about the author's metamorphosis from pet-free life in the city to life in the country with a growing menagerie of tropical birds, water fowl, cats, rabbits, and other beasties (heavy on the avian life). It's a lovely tale of how one man learned about the joy one receives from animals, especially once you become truly devoted to them. Payback, in other words. He seems to have glimpsed intelligence in all of them -- even the turkeys, although turkeys are apparently really stupid.
I: What did you like most about this book?
Myself: It's witty, sweet, touching, sometimes sad . . . a great blend. It's just lovely the way the author not only put up with his wife's yearning to acquire animals, but eventually became an enthusiastic, devoted, hard-working pet owner. The effort they put into caring for their pets is astounding. And, I think I can safely say I'll never look at a duck, goose or starling quite the same way.
I: How did you look at them, before?
Myself: Photo opportunities, from a safe distance. Now, I'll probably be a little more observant of their personalities, as I am with the neighborhood cats. We'll see.
I:There's a personal story tickling your fingers. Go ahead, let it out.
Myself: My brother-in-law's family used to keep geese and ducks when they lived in a rural neighborhood in the Denver area. We went to visit and I was kind of stunned to see that they left their sliding door to the kitchen wide open, so that the animals just trotted inside (and pooped all over the floor, which was fortunately not carpeted). I'd never realized waterfowl can have such distinctive personalities. And, then, of course I promptly forgot about that experience . . . the other bit stuck with me. It's possible Me, Myself and I were responsible for the death of one of those animals to a marauding neighborhood fox, although I was absolutely certain I closed the barn door.
I: Oh, the shame.
Myself: Yeah. How do you atone for a dead goose? I've never figured that out.
I: Was there anything you disliked about the book?
Myself: Incessant wit occasionally annoys me, so there were times I had to put the book aside for a while and read something else. But, let's face it -- I do that all the time. There's really nothing to dislike about the book. Les thought the author should give up and get a dog. I didn't feel that way at all. It's really about how he not only adjusted to pet ownership but came to truly love his pets; and, I think you just have to read the entire book to understand how deeply the animals touched his life and changed him.
I: To whom would you recommend this book?
Myself: Animal lovers, in general. Please bear in mind that he does seem a bit cynical about the whole pet-ownership concept, at first, but it's a very sweet tale about how Bob grew to love his pets. I highly recommend Enslaved by Ducks.
I: Anything else?
Myself: Bob Tarte has recently released a second book, Fowl Weather. I will definitely read it, although it might take me some time to get around to it. If you're looking for a last-minute gift for the animal obsessive in your family, you might as well support the author and buy both. Heck, why not? He's a good guy. You could help save a turkey (or a starling or who knows what) by purchasing his books.
Have a quote or two or three or four:
And over time, I have found myself thinking of them less as "animals" and more as beings, as little packets of alien intelligence. People who hunt for sport probably never consider the deer or turkey they're about to blast to smithereens as a unique individual. But pat the hunter's hound on the head, idly suggest that one of these days you'd like to bag a dog with a .22, and expect a heated discussion. Viewed from an emotional distance, animals do tend to blend together into an undifferentiated mass, like a crowd of spectators at a football game. Yet even a common-as-mud pet like a parakeet will reveal a vivid personality if you pay close attention.
African gray parrots are prone to vitamin deficiencies that can lead to health problems if the bird is restricted to a seed diet, so we were only too happy to provide the pasta, tofu, and Jell-O that a wild bird would have scavenged from the forest.
Linda had always lived out in the country, and that was a big difference between us. Her past included subsistence living with a pig and several chickens in the Michigan north woods, while I had merely lived with Catholics in suburbia.
This one's for Laura, who thinks a book isn't worth its salt unless it contains the word "deft":
Using a long-handled net from a catfish farm, Rupert Murdoch dipped into the Cayuga pen, cornered the female, and with a twist of an arm, scooped her up. "You don't want her flying nowhere," he stated. When we nodded our agreement, he deftly plucked five primary flight feathers from her right wing. The duck never even flinched.
. . . speak with a soft voice, and you might be rewarded with the close approach of a goose. She might even let you touch her. And you had better treasure the gift. Too suddenly and too often, they leave us. It's then that we realize most sharply the subtle comfort of our animals' companionship. It's then that we know that we can't live without them, even though we sometimes must.
Me, Myself, and I: To end our review, we would like to share a fuzzy gosling moment:All together, now. Awwwwww.