Monday, October 03, 2011

The Big Year Hits Theater's October 14th + A Book Review



By Prize-winning Journalist
Mark Obmascik
On October 14th, the sophisticated comedy feature film “The Big Year,” starring Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson, directed by David Frankel (“The Devil Wears Prada” and “Marley & Me”) opens in theaters everywhere, from Twentieth Century. Inspired by award-winning journalist Mark Obmascik’s bestselling book, the film is about following your dreams, being the best you can be - and having a year so BIG you'll never forget it.  Originally published in hardcover by Free Press in 2004, the movie tie-in edition of THE BIG YEAR goes on sale September 27th, priced at $15.

Every January 1, a quirky crowd storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year -- a grand, expensive, and occasionally vicious 365-day bird-watching competition that will test the will of three disparate men. For this trio, 1998 would become a grueling battle for what they hoped would be a record-breaking “big year.” Bouncing from coast to coast on frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities, they brave broiling deserts, bug-infested swamps, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man. This unprecedented year of beat-the-clock adventures ultimately leads one man to a record so gigantic that it is unlikely ever to be bested. Here, prize-winning journalist Mark Obmascik creates a dazzling, fun narrative of the 275,000-mile odyssey of these three obsessives as they fight to win the greatest – and most unusual – birding contest of all time.

Obmascik’s book received rave reviews at its original time of publication.  Here’s what the critics had to say:

“Riveting…The Big Year combines the best of adventure tales, mystery writing, and nature narratives, and even readers who are not birders will soon find themselves cheering the competition on.” – Los Angeles Times

“Should squash once and for all the dusty image of birdwatchers as tweed-skirted Miss Marple types enthralled by flittering titmouse. Obmascik’s hugely entertaining account…reveals the extreme-sport flip side of a normally meditative pastime.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“What a winner it is… The writing is swift and compelling, the stories amazing.” – National Geographic Adventure

“The book’s attraction for birders and watchers of all stripes is easily clear, but for those unfamiliar with the sport, the question soon arises: Why should the story of three men racing to secure bragging rights to seeing the greatest variety of birds in a single year be so compelling? Because, at its heart, this nonfictional narrative is a fabulous story of persistence.” – The Denver Post

“[This] Orchard Thief–like [book] is a real kick—as much for people who use bird as a verb as for folks who don’t know a chuck-will’s-widow from a whiskered auklet. – Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s choice)

“Obmascik cleverly paints an amusing tale… An award-winning environmental writer, [he] is adept at describing these treasures of the landscape, El Nino, the desert and amazing feats of migration.” – The Miami Herald

Obmascik’s story-telling is excellent… The Big Year is as easy to read as a page-turner novel, but more meaningful for those of us who enjoy birding at whatever level of obsession.” – Bird Watcher’s Digest

“Interwoven tales, rife with rugged adventure, humorous high jinks and adrenaline-stoked competitiveness of the highest order, lend entertaining perspective to a wildly popular and wildly misunderstood pursuit.” – Chicago Sun-Times

“An entertaining book…Obmascik keeps the reader guessing in the fun account of a whirlwind pursuit of birding fame.” – Publishers Weekly

The Big Year is just big fun. Plus it lets us dream of ditching our everyday lives for a year.” – Rocky Mountain News

“Mark Obmascik trains a humorous eye on the intense and sometimes kooky world of competitive birding.” – Reader’s Digest (Editor’s Choice)

“Quirky birders make great book subjects, especially when they’re on a mission. Mark Obmascik takes advantage of the all-consuming drive of three birders to record in a minute and sometimes hilarious detail their attempts in 1998 to set a new record for the number of species seen in North America in a single year… [A] lively book.” – Audubon Magazine

“Entertaining for birders and non-birders alike… A compelling and amusing look at a relatively small segment of the population—one that draws its inspiration from nature.” – Boulder Daily Camera

“A feathered version of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” – Outside Magazine

“Red-breasted nuthatches! Himalayan snowcocks! Spotted woodpeckers! Nutting’s flycatchers! The Big Year is the Gumball Rally of birding—a rollicking, nonstop, transcontinental adventure. Mark Obmascik brings the doggedness of an investigative reporter, the grace of an accomplished storyteller, and the compassion of a fellow-traveling obsessive to this alluring quest for avian supremacy.” – Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players

“Mark Obmascik understands birders, and in this book he has ventured bravely into the fringes of the hobby to report on a sort of extreme birding: the big year. It’s the best and the worst of birding in one grueling yearlong contest, and you have to admire the rare passion of dedication that a big year attempt requires. The rest of us must be content with daydreaming about it, and this book will undoubtedly be the source of many daydreams.” – David Allen Sibley, author of The Sibley Guide to Birds

The Big Year is big fun. A rollicking, feather-ruffler of a read, this uproarious adventure of three men who flew over the cuckoo’s nest in their search for avian glory will have you crawling with laughter.” – Jeff Corwin, wildlife biologist and executive producer and host of Animal Planet’s The Jeff Corwin Experience

The Big Year will be in theaters everywhere October 14th. To view the official movie trailer, visit or visit The Big Year official movie website to learn more:

In My Honest Opinion:

I have really high hopes for the movie. Three awesome comedic actors taking on the roles of three bird sightseers in a quest to see the most birds. 

There were parts of the book that I found entertaining. I am interested in Audubon. He was the guy who the Audubon Society is named after. He was also on a quest and shot down birds, posing them in life like positions to paint their picture.  Weird to be called a naturalist and than shoot down birds that eventually became extinct or on now on the endangered.

The book is written by Denver Post journalist Mark Obmascik and is the story of the three top contenders in the 1998 American Big Year. Stu, Jack and Kenny are each competing for the title top birder or Big Year birding champion of North America. These guys travel around searching for the hardest to find species of birds, spending thousands of dollars and time away from their family for an odd claim to fame.

While I thought the book was OK. I am eager for the movie. It was a quick read but for me there was way too much bird detail to keep my attention.

I received a complimentary copy of the book for my honest opinion.

1 comment:

  1. I've been receiving complimentary books for review too recently. How I wish I could for this one. The story sounds fun


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