Square Books is pleased to partner with Lemuria Books in Jackson, MS to celebrate Sean Flynn's memoir Why Peacocks? -- joined in conversation by poet and essayist Aimee Nezhukumatathil.
Monday, May 17th @ 5:30 pm CT
This event is free to attend but registration is required. Click to here to RSVP.
An acclaimed journalist seeks to understand the mysterious allure of peacocks—and in the process discovers unexpected and valuable life lessons.
When Sean Flynn’s neighbor in North Carolina texted “Any chance you guys want a peacock? No kidding!” he stared bewilderedly at his phone. He had never considered whether he wanted a peacock. But as an award-winning magazine writer, this kind of mystery intrigued him. So he, his wife, and their two young sons became the owners of not one but three charming yet fickle birds: Carl, Ethel, and Mr. Pickle.
In Why Peacocks?, Flynn chronicles his hilarious and heartwarming first year as a peacock owner, from struggling to build a pen to assisting the local bird doctor in surgery to triumphantly watching a peahen lay her first egg. He also examines the history of peacocks, from their appearance in the Garden of Eden to their befuddling Charles Darwin to their bewitching the likes of Flannery O’Connor and Martha Stewart. And fueled by a reporter’s curiosity, he travels across the globe to learn more about the birds firsthand, with stops including a Scottish castle where peacocks have resided for centuries, a southern California community tormented by a serial killer of peacocks, and a Kansas City airport hotel hosting an annual gathering of true peafowl aficionados.
At turns comically absurd and deeply poignant, Why Peacocks? blends lively, insightful memoir and illuminating science journalism to answer the title’s question. More than that, it offers surprising lessons about love, grief, fatherhood, and family.
About the Author
Sean Flynn is a National Magazine Award–winning journalist and author who's reported from six continents during the past thirty years. A long-time correspondent for GQ, his work has been widely anthologized and translated into nearly a dozen languages. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two boys.
About the Host
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the New York Times best-selling author of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, & Other Astonishments, finalist for the Kirkus Prize in non-fiction, and recently named the Barnes and Noble Book of the Year. She is also the author of four books of poetry, and is poetry editor of SIERRA, the national magazine of the Sierra Club. Awards for her writing include a fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Council, Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for poetry, National Endowment of the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.
“Wry and moving.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“As readers follow Flynn’s journey, his clever insights and pleasing prose style will leave them alternating between moments of shock and bursts of laughter.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Sweet and often funny, Why Peacocks? is an engaging mix of memoir, history and journalism.”—Sarah McCraw Crow, BookPage
“Sean Flynn's writing has an easy, genuine flow, like a friend telling a story over dinner, and in this charming book his story is about peacocks. He is entirely successful in answering the question in the title, but saying this is a book about peacocks seems inadequate. It ends up being about so much more.”—David Sibley, author of the New York Times bestsellers What It’s Like to Be a Bird and The Sibley Guide to Birds
"Why Peacocks? is a wonderful book. At times moving and at times hilarious, always well written, it’s a story about family life and love, pets and peacocks, that evolves into an investigation of one of evolution’s biggest mysteries: Why does beauty exist?”—Patrik Svensson, author of the international bestseller The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World
“A truly wise and tender sparkler of a book. Weaving memoir, history, reportage, and mythology, Sean Flynn tells not just a quirky story about iridescent birds but a more profound one about family and parenthood, the innocence of childhood and our own mortality. I read it in one gulp, moved and humored and carried away by Flynn’s heart and artistry as a master storyteller.” —Michael Paterniti, author of the New York Times bestseller The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese
“Ostensibly about peacocks, Flynn’s book is much more than that: it is a story woven with beauty and obsession and loss. Funny, poignant, very well written and a pleasure to read.”—Jonathan C. Slaght, author of Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl
"When I started this book, I hoped Sean Flynn would take me on an amusing romp through the strange world of peacocks and their people. He certainly did that—but Why Peacocks? is so much more. It is both a warm, generous memoir about family and a master-class in science writing that shifts seamlessly between wit and wonder. It is tender. It is stylish. But, in the tradition of E.B. White and Helen Macdonald, this is not a book about the pretty surfaces of things, as pretty as those surfaces are; it is a life-affirming meditation on the nature of beauty and mortality. I can't think of any book the world needs more right now." —Bronwen Dickey, author of Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon