Providence of a Sparrow
Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds
By Chris Chester
(Anchor, Paperback, 9781400033850, 304pp.)
Publication Date: April 13, 2004
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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“There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.” --William Shakespeare, Hamlet
B fell twenty-five feet from his nest into the life of Chris Chester. The encounter was providential for both of them.
B and Chester spent hours together playing games like bottle-cap fetch or hide-and-seek. They learned “words” in each other’s vocabularies. B developed a fetish for nostrils and a dislike of the color yellow. He grew anxious if Chester came home late from work. At bedtime he would rub his sleepy eyes on Chester’s thumb and settle to sleep in his palm. Chester ended up turning part of his house into an aviary and adjusting his social life to meet B’s demands. This was a small price to pay, though, for the trust and comfort of a twenty-five-gram friend who brought joy and wonder back into his life.
Chris Chester is an electronics technician and writer. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
"A wonderfully literate, oddball meditation on life and the power of rich friendships with small birds." --Los Angeles Times
"A story charmingly told, sprinkled with scientific information on birds, philosophical meanderings, the friendship that forms between human and avian . . . as mesmerizing as a bunch of feathers and dark eyes alighting in your hand." --The Sunday Oregonian
“I never imagined that one of the most illuminating books about birds would focus on the lowly house sparrow! I envy Chester for writing so beautifully, for being so funny while having such insight into the human as well as the bird condition, and for conducting such a fascinating and fulfilling love affair—who cares if it is with a bird!” --Marie Winn, author of Red-Tails in Love
"Frank, humorous and often surprisingly insightful. . . . Chester’s affectionate description . . . reads like an Ornithology 101 course delivered . . . by a boy completely smitten with a new best friend." --The Seattle Times
"Literate, eclectic, mildly eccentric, witty, and marvelous. . . . Reading a book in which the author delights in nature is itself a delight." --Salt Lake Tribune
“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
“Heartfelt, warm, and entertaining. . . . Highly literate and filled with personal ruminations, avian research, and literary allusions, Chester’s writing style sets this book apart from other animal memoirs.” —Library Journal
“A charming and touching memoir, a welcome addition to the venerable literature treating the love between animals and people. . . . Will appeal to even the skeptical non-bird lover.” —Alison Baker, author of Loving Wanda Beaver: Novella and Stories
“Highly astute and humorous. . . . Filled with literary, historical, and scientific allusions, each so well-placed and –timed that one wonders at the author’s encyclopedic mind.” —Missoula Independent
“Chris is a role model to be emulated by others who work with birds. . . . His extraordinary sensitivity to a few common captive sparrows reveals how much we humans can learn about the needs and the actions of our feathered friends. The book is a delight.” —George Archibald, Co-founder of the International Crane Foundation