At age sixteen, Kenn Kaufman left home to travel the world in search of birds. Now a grown man and a renowned ornithologist, he has come back to visit his ailing mother and to try to explain to her what drove his obsession with bird life. His explanation takes the form of a series of interlocking tales from the frontier where the world of birds intersects with the world of the humans who pursue them. The stories range over settings from Alaska to Africa, from trackless jungles to parking lots. They delve into subjects from first dates to last rites, from imagination and desire to sleep deprivation, from poignant encounters with eternal mysteries to comical brushes with biker gangs and secret agents. But as the story unfolds, the ornithologist comes to realize that he can still learn some things from his mother, about life and even about the meaning of birds.
Flights Against the Sunset brings together nineteen of Kenn Kaufman’s best essays from his long-running column in BirdWatcher’s Digest. They are woven into an original story that examines how we communicate about our passions with those who do not share the same level of interest and that celebrates the world of infinite possibilities and wonder.