Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Eleven books that feature flying things

Matthew Gavin Frank’s new nonfiction book, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers, is about, among other things, the ways in which carrier pigeons were used by diamond smuggling rings in coastal South Africa.

At Lit Hub the author tagged his "favorite books which feature, in some form or another, flying things," including:
Mozart’s Starling
Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses

Animals Strike Curious Poses turns the bestiary inside out, fashioning intoxicating and animated meditations on our penchant for ownership via naming, our drive to saddle the world and its creatures with our weary, ponderous patronymics, and the attendant and cockeyed faux-fame. Passarello’s essays tell secrets. In “Vogel Staar,” one of my favorite essays in the collection, Passarello delights us with an examination of the relationship between Mozart and his avian comrade and collaborator, a darling starling (sorry) whose complex song in part inspired the Viennese composer’s musical trajectory. “The bird must have zeroed in on Mozart’s mouth,” Passarello writes, “as the man whistled the seventeen-note opening phrase from his recent piano concerto… [T]he starling… spat that tune right back at the tunesmith—but not without taking some liberties first. The little songbird unslurred the quarter notes and added a dramatic fermata at the end of the first full measure; we can only guess how long it held that warbly G.” And in this way, human brain finds itself “bonding with a bird brain,” and though the starling’s flight is girdled by its cage, its song and, subsequently, Mozart’s ear, and career, soars.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue