Why Peacocks?: An Unlikely Search for Meaning in the World’s Most Magnificent Bird

Sean Flynn. Simon & Schuster, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-1-9821-0107-7
Journalist Flynn (3000 Degrees) returns with a wry and moving account of his time keeping peacocks at his North Carolina home. Following the death of his son Emmett’s python, Flynn purchased three peacocks—Carl, Ethel, and Mr. Pickle—after being persuaded by a woman who claimed they were at risk of being killed by a marauding owl. The reality of managing the peafowl proved more challenging, logistically and financially, than Flynn had anticipated—despite his belief that he could learn the ropes from Martha Stewart, who also keeps peacocks—and he got by thanks to his family’s assistance and an awareness of his own fallibility. Along the way, Flynn considers the bird as a cultural and religious symbol (it was a favorite of Greek goddess Hera, for example), and offers stories of other notorious peacock-keepers, among them Damian Williams, who takes care of the birds in their sanctuary in Dunfermline, Scotland. Flynn brings the birds to life as characters (“From her perspective,” he writes of caring for Ethel, “assuming she had one, I was her captor”), and a conversation he has with his son about animal death is especially touching. Fans of Lauren Scheuer‘s Once Upon a Flock should give this a look. Agent: David Black, David Black Literary. (May)

Correction: A previous version of this review incorrectly noted this was the author's first book.

Reviewed on : 03/12/2021
Release date: 05/11/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-9821-0109-1
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