Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All

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Overview

This critically acclaimed, hilarious memoir recounts Luke Dempsey's descent from general respectability into birding mania. It is the story of an epic journey around America in search of the rarest and most beautiful birds the country has to offer. In terms both exotic and refreshingly funny, Dempsey describes his quest for the likes of Kirtland's Warbler and the Elegant Trogon. But the birds are only part of the tale. There are also his crazy companions, Don and Donna Graffiti, who obsess over Dempsey's culinary...

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A Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All

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Overview

This critically acclaimed, hilarious memoir recounts Luke Dempsey's descent from general respectability into birding mania. It is the story of an epic journey around America in search of the rarest and most beautiful birds the country has to offer. In terms both exotic and refreshingly funny, Dempsey describes his quest for the likes of Kirtland's Warbler and the Elegant Trogon. But the birds are only part of the tale. There are also his crazy companions, Don and Donna Graffiti, who obsess over Dempsey's culinary limitations and watch in horror as an innocent comment in a store in Arizona almost turns into an international incident; as a trip through wild Florida turns into a series of (sometimes poetic) fisticuffs; and as he teeters at the summit of the Rocky Mountains, a displaced Brit falling in love all over again, this time with his adopted country.

Both a paean to avian beauty and a travelogue of the back roads of America, A Supremely Bad Idea is a supremely fun comic romp.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Dempsey, a transplanted Brit and editor in chief of Hudson Street Press, entertainingly recounts his passion for bird watching as he meanders with two birder friends to birding hot spots in Florida, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Washington State, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York's Central Park, enjoying misadventures and good times along the way. Dempsey is not averse to using occasional obscenities as well as beautifully turned phrases by way of contrast. His picaresque account features several quirky recurring leitmotifs: peculiar signage encountered in his travels, the author's like or dislike of tomatoes and their end products, his divorce and two daughters, and his confrontations with rude people. To one very overweight, obnoxious family he quips as a parting shot, "Have you considered salads?" Dempsey can also be informative and engagingly partisan, as when he describes complex ecological problems such as those found in the Everglades. Throughout, the book is imbued with his appreciation of the wonders, beauty, and fragility of the natural world. A bit lightweight for hard-core birders, this should appeal to general readers interested in nature. Recommended for larger public libraries.
—Henry T. Armistead

From the Publisher
“A gentle, contemplative memoir punctuated by frequent bursts of hilarity and weirdness. At some points, the book reads like a cross between Bill Bryson and Dave Barry (or perhaps Patrick McManus), and that’s a very good thing, indeed.”—Booklist

“Dempsey succeeds where few authors do. He masterfully shows how a few chance encounters can transform a seemingly normal guy (or gal) into someone obsessed with birds.” —WildBird magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596913554
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 7/22/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Luke Dempsey is the editor in chief of Hudson Street Press, a division of Penguin USA. He lives in New York City. This is his first book.

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Table of Contents

1 The Northeast: Falling in Love at Home 1

Now What? 16

2 Arizona: Watching Wezil Walraven Work 19

Now What? 63

3 Florida: "This Is Indian Territory! This is Not the USA! Go Back to England!" 67

Now What? 100

4 Michigan: What Charles Pease Shot 103

Now What? 137

5 Pacific Northwest: People of the Grass Country 139

Now What? 166

6 Texas: No, No, It Was a Ringed Kingfisher 170

Now What? 216

7 Colorado: On the Trail of the White-tailed P-TAR-me-jen 219

Epilogue What Now? 247

Afterword Peru 254

Acknowledgments 262

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

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(2)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2013

    Great book

    Honestly i choose this book from the bargin bin. I am by no means a birder and neither was the author in the beginning. This book was hysterical! I loved it from the first page. The authors writing style is easy and natural ,Almost like your in a conversation rather than just reading. Give this book a try for entertainment and a few laugh out loud moments.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2012

    Must be into Nature & Birds! But still fantastic!

    Extremely well written, but again, you must be into birds & nature. Otherwise, you might not understand the author's "obsession". I loved it!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2008

    'Misanthrope Goes Birding'

    I have mixed feelings about this book. It is certainly written well, and I learned a lot about birds. Unfortunately, Dempsey doesn't seem to like people very much. He whinges about strangers, other birders, and worst of all, his 'friends.' And that's when he isn't coming up with derogatory names for other people - like 'the Pregnants.' He seems to believe he is better than the rest of us. He occasionally throws in sweet comments about his daughters, but they seem contrived and almost like an afterthought. I don't know - while I am interested in the subject, the tone of the book left me with a bad taste. It could have been funny and informative without taking pot-shots at just about everyone he came in contact with.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2011

    Great read!

    I pick this book up whenever I need a good laugh. As a bird I can relate to some of the crazy antics described and made fun of in this book. Love this book!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2008

    A Supremely Bad Idea is a great read!

    I liked this book a lot. Almost enough to pick up a pair of binoculars and see for myself if birds could actually become an obsession. Mr. Dempsey does have a particularly snarky sense of humor-so if you take offense easy you are going to miss some of the gems of the book--for instance, his gentle pokes at his friends, himself, and the "pregnants."<BR/>His righteous indignation over perceived slights is hilarious...I can almost see his man cape unfurling to right the wrongs...A great read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

    Very interesting from a biological point of view.

    I found this book very interesting, and informative. View points were a little liberal for my liking.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2013

    Entertaining

    If you like birding, you will enjoy this book. Keep your Sibley's or Peterson's close at hand, as these birders see some rare birds. Humorous and informative.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2009

    Read this book!

    This book is fantastic. The author's wit and humor really make this a great read. I was also fascinated by the birds and the idea of birding. I almost want to be a birder myself now. Almost.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2009

    Great and funny read

    This is a very funny book with alot of helpful information on birds. I, myself, am a birder and while reading this book, I was inspired to just get out and look in my own backyard instead of wishing for something big at the popular birding sites. Re: the author not liking people very much, I find that to be a very shallow take on his humor. When you spend so much time with people and in such close quarters, there are certain quirks that you notice, he notes these quirks with a very dry sense of humor which is part of the hilarity of the book. Also, "the pregnants", I couldn't have said it better myself! :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2014

    Very funny!

    I enjoyed the bird watching adventures relayed with sharp British outlook. Very funny! I was entertained.

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    Posted April 29, 2010

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    Posted May 11, 2011

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    Posted February 2, 2009

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