Ben Fountain, "Near Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera"

An aspiring ornithologist is held captive by guerrillas in Colombia.

(from Brief Encounters with Che Guevara)

“Yes,” the rebel answered, “ecology is important to the revolution. As a scholar”—he gave a faint, possibly ironic smile—“you can appreciate this,” and he made a little speech about the environment, how the firmeza revolucionaria had banned the multinational logging and mining “mafias” from all liberated zones.

No this isn’t the story with Che Guevara in it. I assume that’s the title story. This story is the reason there are birds on the book jacket, and it makes me wonder why one story was chosen as the title and the other to inspire the illustration on the cover. I really dug the unpredictable nature of this story. It felt dangerous, bizarre and wild. I worried about John “Joan” Blair even when his presence in the story seems merely to be the ridiculous nerdy American suddenly stranded in a violent foreign place.
Read it here.

2 thoughts on “Ben Fountain, "Near Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera"

  1. Annie King

    Hi Patrick, I just started reading your posts. I was led to your site by your comments on Andrew Foster Altschul’s “A New Kind of Gravity.” I haven’t read “Near Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera.” Based on your story description, I’m wondering how it compares to Alice Munro’s “The Albanian Virgin,” if at all.

  2. Annie King

    I haven’t had the chance to read the story yet, but I downloaded it for later. If the link was there before, I’m sorry, I missed it, or I wouldn’t have asked such an inane question. I enjoy your posts and the literary links.


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