Into the Tangled Bank by Lev Parikian [7/10]

Conductor Lev Parikian wrote one of my favorite birding books of 2018, revealing in the process a unique voice: jokey, discursive, smart, bustling, compassionate. “Into the Tangled Bank” widens his ambit. Setting out to explore British nature in all its complexity, but also how people experience nature, and in particular what nature means to him, Parikian begins close-up, in his “non-gardener’s” garden, then expands horizons. He strolls his local “patch,” attempts to draw a heron, hikes through rain, examines nature in museums and via documentaries, tours London Zoo and the wetland reserve in Barnes (one of my special places), then journeys to Skye and onto a boat and into a bird banding project. Interspersed are homages to Darwin, Peter Scott, and others. Chuckles abound and Parikian never turns pretentious. Nor does he espouse a platform, though a mid-book “interlude,” a pithy rave about “the state of the planet” moved me greatly. Indeed Into the Tangled Bank weaves a subtle magic over its journey, professing to bumble but artfully suffusing the reader with awe and love of our planet and all its living forms.

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