A Naturalists World
Life flashes past many eyes: resident, tourist, voyageur, even those of wolves. Dreaming of Wolves provides introspection through the eyes of a wolf.
Alan’s journey explores an inward look at mid-life crises, personal feeling, community economics, ethnic survival, cultural bias, and national politics while trying to [understand the life] of a pack of Romanian wolves. To know life, his life, the author travels to a remote, foreign setting seeking knowledge about wolves, but also learns about himself.
Yes, it is a travelogue, a personal adventure, but it is also a narrative explaining wolf ecology and behavior versus rural cultural integrity and history.
Read it to understand wolves and to understand people at the delicate interface where a few wolves exist almost secretively next to rural people still attached to their lands and agricultural practices.
I recommend Alan’s work not only as a natural history reference, but also for showing that we can exist with wild animals even as planet earth approaches an overflowing human population. --(Dr. James C. Halfpenny )
International Wolf Center
"Want to hear about my trip and see my photos?" Anyone who has ever been held hostage by a long-winded friend with 500 pictures snapped from a car window knows the momentary panic of having to make a choice between politely declining and caving in with a reluctant assent.
But Alan Sparks is no amateur storyteller, and the first page of the book guarantees the reader will never be bored. Sparks knows how to spin "true-life" adventures that invite readers to share his experiences. As for photos, the collection of color pictures that enhance the timeless narrative is beautiful and vivid.
This book is many things, all of them wonderful. It's an armchair traveler's delight, a lively, honest and often hilarious memoir, an odyssey of the spirit, a reflection about time and consciousness, and a treasure trove of meticulously-researched wolf information. Recounted in first-person, often in the present tense, Sparks shares his experiences in the mountain forests of Romania with a page-turning narrative that sweeps the reader along as companion and fellow traveler. The 'listener' goes with Sparks for the ride. And what a ride it is!
This is a story brimming with humor (Sparks has that rare capacity for poking fun at himself), introspection, pathos, keen observation and solid information. Thus, for lovers of wildlife and wild places, the book is a delightful discovery. And for people interested in wolves, it's a must.--(Cornelia Hutt)
An engaging diary of a wolf-finding expedition in Transylvania.
When Sparks, a 45-year-old high-tech professional, takes an early retirement package and re-invents his life, he decides to pursue wolf research in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, Romania. Why?
"For me," writes the author, "could anything surpass tracking wolves in the thick forests and deep snow of the northlands, in the wilderness somewhere away from all the high-tech drudgery, the congested traffic and sprawling suburbs, the bustling rush to nowhere? Working to comprehend a different world, a wild world, and maybe helping to protect it as well."
Sparks pursues this adventure after finding a website for the Carpathian Large Carnivore Project, firing off an e-mail and ultimately convincing the project director that he should be allowed to extend his "eco-volunteer" experience well beyond the traditional few weeks.
The remainder of the book is essentially comprised of diary entries that provide rare insight into the behavior of wolves, as well as a close-up look at life in the backcountry and small towns of the Carpathian Mountains.
The author's experiences tracking wolves, combined with the people he meets and his descriptions of the locale, make for a compelling and invigorating story. Sparks writes well, even eloquently at times, generously sharing his observations as he learns of the similarities and differences between wolves and dogs. The reader intimately witnesses the relationships the author builds with some of the wolves he studies. And Sparks' bits of philosophical contemplation brought on by his solitude add depth to the tale. The text is supplemented by excellent color photos that bring all of these elements to life and offer visual validation of the adventure.
As wolves have made a resurgence in parts of the United States in recent years, their proximity to humans has lead to some controversy. Sparks' tale becomes all the more interesting as a documentary of how wolves are viewed in another part of the world.
A thoroughly enjoyable read for animal lovers and explorers alike.(c)