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The Black Swan: Memory, Midlife, and…

The Black Swan: Memory, Midlife, and Migration

by Anne Batterson

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743215532, Hardcover)

It's hard to believe this thoughtful memoir is Anne Batterson's first book, so elegantly does she weave a chronicle of her five-week trip across America to observe migratory birds with recollections of the key people and moments in her life. Batterson was 56 when she took off from Connecticut on the journey she knew was quixotic, designed to stem her rising panic at her beloved second husband's talk of leaving his post as an Episcopalian minister. "Retirement, he would try out over the dinner table," she writes. "More time. Enough time... What I heard was: Hurry. Hurry. There's no time." Though she had behind her decades of adventure as a skydiver, pilot, and mountain trekker, Batterson still felt a keen need for risk-taking and solitude. With the blessings of her understanding spouse, David, she packed up her VW bus camper and took off. The present-tense narrative of her travels has a marvelous immediacy, from the lyrical (yet often slyly funny) descriptions of birdwatching, to emotional accounts of visits, to friends suffering their own midlife crises. Her past comes vibrantly to life in bravura passages capturing the thrill of skydiving (especially a terrifying jump in the middle of a lightning storm) and the pain of her failed first marriage to a flight instructor "who taught me how to loop the loop. Boy did he ever." She comes home to David and the knowledge that her wanderlust makes her who she is. The book closes with Batterson admitting, "I've always wanted to go above the Arctic Circle," as David laughs and she kisses the palm of his hand, murmuring, "God, I'm lucky." Readers will feel just as lucky to have shared the experiences related here with such tenderness and hard-won wisdom. --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:52 -0400)

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