Stories of obsession are intriguing. The diversity of human obsessions is vast. The range of intensity is from quietly passionate to utterly possessed. Now comes “An Obsession Called Pheasant: The True Story of a Pursuit of the Elusive,” written by Jolan Durrah. This book picks up the story of Daniel James beginning with recollections of his child leading up to his life-changing decision as a young man to pursue his passion for exotic Pheasants into the deepest jungles of Borneo. It was that trek which is the subject of the first Daniel James’ story, the award winning “Adventure in Borneo,” also written by Durrah. For those who have read that title, “An Obsession Called Pheasant” is a step back in time and provides background on James and the origins of his obsession which were lacking in the first book.
The book offers entertaining and informative anecdotes about Daniel and his family throughout his childhood. Dorrah also writes of James’ continuous observations of the birds and how his passion for them evolved beyond the birds themselves to affluent breeders and collectors throughout the United States. Sadly, the interior art in the book is in black and white. But, the striking cover art compelled me to go online and look for color photographs of the different species referenced by James.
That engaging and exotic cover art and design strongly suggest that what awaits the reader within is a vivid and exciting tale. For me it never fulfilled that promise, due primarily to the author’s writing style. Simply put, I found Durrah’s writing to be a bit too academic and his passion to be too much in check for the adventure genre at its best. But the tale was told well enough to keep me tagging along and the book does conclude with some strong emotional sparks that tweak my interest in continuing on the trail with reading similar adventures.
Among my internet research in preparation for this review, I noted that one unidentified source, writing about obsession, stated that “when you’re obsessed by something…it means that all you do is live and breathe for that thing…it’s the world to you and you will do anything to keep it and protect it.” If obsession intrigues you, if you have any interest in Pheasants in general, or you like quirky books about house pets, you will enjoy “An Obsession Called Pheasant.”
An Obsession Called Pheasant: The True Story of a Pursuit of the Elusive
Pheasant Tail Productions (2011)
Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views (11/11)