The Big Twitch

I found Sean Dooley's The Big Twitch in the library while I was vaguely browsing for bird books (for work). It had that well-thumbed look that oft-borrowed books acquire, which is usually a good sign, and indeed so it proved to be.

The story of one man's odyssey around Australia, in a quest to see as many bird species as possible in a single calendar year, sounds as if it might yawn-inducingly dull, and in lesser hands, it might have been. But Sean Dooley (who has a history of writing TV comedy) is such an entertaining companion, it becomes a fascinating and funny travelogue, broken into small chunks as he travels into every corner of the country, from Tasmania to Christmas Island and all points in between. He doesn't linger too long on the bird stuff, giving us just enough detail to feel involved in his 'birdy-nerdy' quest, and he weaves in plenty of amusing anecdotes and local history and geography along the way. Who knew that birding politics were so complex and passionate? Dooley's droll eye misses nothing, and he also shares some poignant family history along the way (his journey is made possible by an inheritance from his parents, both recently dead from cancer).

In short, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I anticipated. A sweet and drily humorous tale, perfect for reading on the tram.

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