It was nice to see this little review this morning as part of a round-up of bird books in the Montreal Gazette:
“Speaking of the vanishing American West and its icons, I was thrilled to see Rachel Dickinson’s Falconer on the Edge (Houghton Mifflin, $25) about Steve Chindgren, a pioneer, a Western mountain man and, most of all, a hardcore falconer.
I once attended a falconry conference in Utah and I will never forget my adventure of running along with Steve full-tilt on frozen mud in a marsh as he chased after his beloved hunting peregrine. He is eccentric, fanatical, obsessive and truly dedicated to the sport of falconry. Not for the faint of heart, though. (to read more click here . . .)
Last summer, Scott Farrell interviewed me for his website Chivalry Today. Just discovered the podcast the other day. I share the posdast with a Zulu stick fighter and a chess-playing philosopher. Here’s his intro to the podcast:
“In This Episode: Scott interviews author Rachel Dickinson, whose new book, Falconer On The Edge, explores the lifestyle of the men and women who hunt with birds of prey in today’s world, and carry on the traditions of this chivalric sport. Plus: A conversation about the game of chess and the philosophy of chivalry with Prof. Benjamin Hale, senior editor of Philosophy Looks At Chess; and some thoughts on honorable behavior in Zulu stick fighting.
Steve Bodio did a round-up of mini-reviews back in September and here’s what he had to say about my book:
“Falconer on the Edge by Rachel Dickinson is the best book about falconry by a non- falconer ever written– in fact, it is better than 90% of the ones written by falconers! For an excellent longer review by artist (and falconer) Carel Brest van Kempen go here; for Rachel’s blog go here.”
Rare praise and I’m completely flattered. Bodio can write circles around me.
It’s hard not to smile when you’ve been reviewed on a blog called Bookslut because it’s such a great title for a blog. The reviewer, Colleen Mondor, tackles books in all disciplines and I was honored to have Falconer on the Edge included in her August round-up called A Flock of Books.
Her review of Falconer begins:
“After reading about Rosalie Edge’s work on Hawk Mountain, and reviewing Tim Gallagher’s falconry book, I was quite intrigued to come across Rachel Dickinson’s Falconer on the Edge. Dickinson is married to Gallagher, although, as she candidly admits, the notion of sharing a large portion of her life with raptors never crossed her mind. She reveals a few insights about marriage to the sport in this title but mostly she writes about Steve Chindgren, an extreme falconer whose life is framed around the sport. Although happily married and a proud father, Chindgren still leaves his home in Utah for months out of the year to travel to Wyoming with his birds and dogs to hunt. This is not a weekend adventure to him — it is, to a large extent, everything. Dickinson is intrigued by such commitment and also the unique relationship between man and bird.” (to read more click here.)
It’s nerve-wracking to sit through an hour-long interview — you’re sure you sound like an idiot half the time and, because I am who I am, I am sure when pushed to the wall I’m just a blithering idiot. But this interview with Crystal Sarakis on WSKG’s Off the Page went quite well. Made some gaffes but nothing that will make me want to hide my face when someone says they heard the piece. To listen to the interview click here.
Here’s the intro:
Rachel Dickinson’s introduction to the world of falconry was rather abrupt. Her husband, Tim Gallagher, brought home a kestrel one day, a young bird that had been brought in to the Lab of Ornithology at Cornell. That one bird rekindled an old passion for Tim, and thrust Rachel into a world completely foreign to her.
In order to better understand this new world, Dickinson set out to try to gain an understanding of the world of falconry by following one of the sport’s most intense and legendary figures – Steve Chindgren. Her book, “Falconer on the Edge: A Man, His Birds, and the Vanishing Landscape” is the result of that journey. The book is a captivating profile of a very complex individual who has sacrificed a great deal for the birds and the sport that he loves, and a fascinating look at hunting with falcons.”
In the book world, if your book doesn’t take off immediately or garner well-placed reviews, your little tome is doomed to die a quick and quiet death. And these days, when the publishing industry is devoting fewer funds and resources to promoting books that might be “iffy” in any way (mind you they paid good money for the book in the first place), your book can be doomed from the get-go.
I’ve had fun watching FALCONER ON THE EDGE yo-yo its way up and down Amazon’s list of bestsellers in the hunting category over the past couple of weeks. Sometimes FALCONER is nestled between books about hunting with compound bows and stalking whitetail deer in Wisconsin, or it will be somewhere near The Man-Eaters of Tsavo, a perennial bestseller written decades ago, or eating the dust of a new bestseller titled American Buffalo. I’m just happy it’s out there and doing okay. But I have taken to carrying a box of my books in my car whenever I travel anywhere because, at this point, a sale is a sale.
So all you people with books on the verge of coming out be prepared for the strangeness of bookstore readings to seven people (two of whom stopped by on their way to the bathroom), radio interviews with people who haven’t read the book, and Amazon (and other) reviews where you, as the author, are being taken to task for everything from the copy on the bookjacket (not written by me) to the fact that this wasn’t a how-to book about falconry. My word of advice to you incipient authors is to grow an extra layer of skin.
In the spring issue of Intelligent Life magazine comedian/actor/writer Will Smith tries falconry.
photo credit: David Yeo
Here’s the beginning of the piece:
There is something about having a bird of prey “on the fist” that stirs the soul of a man. It harks back to an age of chivalry and manly independence. It makes you want to put on a cloak and stride across moonlit hilltops. It also turns me into a nine-year-old boy wide-eyed with delight at facts such as this: the Golden Eagle can take out any mammal up to the size of a grey wolf. For the remainder of this piece, such “boy facts”—facts which give me a thrill akin to being winked at by Viggo Mortensen—will be italicised.
Men should not relieve themselves when hunting with hawks, as the hawk will see your, er, appendage as prey. According to Shaun, a falconer at the English School of Falconry in Bedfordshire, this rule was introduced after an actual incident. Ouch. I’m delighted to meet Shaun, mainly because I think “falconer”—along with “spy”, “explorer” and “I play guitar in U2”—is one of the coolest answers you can give to the question “What do you do for a living?”
(to read more click here . . .)