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The Big Year: a Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession.

THE BIG YEAR: A TALE OF MAN, NATURE AND FOWL OBSESSION. Mark Obmascik. 2004. Read by Oliver Wyman. Abridged. 5 cds. 6 hrs. Random House Audio. 0-7393-0251-5. $29.95. Cardboard; content notes. SA

THE BIG YEAR: A TAIE OF MAN, NATURE AND FOWL OBSESSION. Mark Obmascik. 2004. Read by Del Roy. 8 cds. No time listed. Books on Tape. 0-7366-9938-4. $81.00. Vinyl; content notes. SA

Each sporting event has ifs competitions, and bird watching is no different. In bird watching, The Big Year is a 365-day-long solo event in which participants travel throughout a specific geographic area. They identify and record sightings of as many species of birds as possible, in a no-holds-barred free-for-all that covers huge geographic areas. Obmascik's in-depth accounting of the 1998 American Big Year (from a series of interviews) makes listeners feel like they are actually participants taking part in the extensive travel. Obmascik describes three men from various backgrounds who make sacrifices in personal relationships and employment in order to beat competitors and unscramble logistical nightmares involved in trekking to remote locations. Within this obsessive arena there are wacky, hilarious moments.

The unabridged version provides additional personal details of the three main competitors, and some of the more zany aspects of the competition itself. The ultimate winner is not revealed until the end, along with brief glimpses into how the three main competitors' lives are affected by the previous year's events. Both narrators are excellent: Wyman's rendition is vigorous; Roy's more mature voice somehow suits the role better. Listeners will gain a new appreciation for the sport, and insight into the joys and trials of setting and attaining personal goals. Not at all what one would expect! Sunnie Grant, Dover, NH
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Author:Grant, Sunnie
Article Type:Audiobook Review
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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