Monday, May 17, 2004

I was trying to remember why it had taken me so long to read Eagle Dreams, and realized that I could blame it mostly on Odious! After he read it while we were in Hawaii, he immediately loaned it out to two different people before I got my chance; then somehow it ended up getting shelved upon returning to our house instead of going straight to my nightstand. I happened to notice it the other day while looking for something to read, and I can only say I'm deeply ashamed I waited this long.

The author, Stephen J. Bodio, is Peculiar's stepfather, so we have been privileged to know him and his wonderful wife for several years now. Visiting them in the tiny New Mexican town of Magdalena is an experience rather beyond description, and one I hope to have again this summer. As they now have five dogs in their 4-room house, in addition to birds of varying sizes, I'm not sure how visitors will be crammed in amongst the impressive library and vast collection of items and artifacts from around the world, but we'll figure that out later.

Steve has been an avid falconer for most of his life (he's written several other books on the subject of birds), and Eagle Dreams is a memoir of his travels to Mongolia and Kazakhstan in search of eaglers. Because he writes much the same as he speaks, it's a fast-paced and infinitely fascinating account, combining travel notes with descriptions of food and alcohol (mostly vodka) and, of course, eagles and the men who hunt with them. He seems to have a knack for meeting thoroughly interesting and odd characters, and just as much of a knack of portraying them to his reader.

Though I heard many stories of Mongolia as a child, through a young missionary based from our church in Colorado, it had never particularly grabbed my interest until now. And I must admit that it's probably the things least appealing to most people that draw my attention--the cold, the vast barren sweeps, the solitude, and the animal population greater than the human. Steve makes it all, if not alluring, certainly fascinating, and I believe I may have to add Mongolia to my list of places to visit.

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