"Jonathan Livingston Seagull"

Jonathan Livingston Seagull  by  Richard Bach

I remember hearing about this book all through the Seventies. I think there might have been a movie, but I know it was referred to constantly in magazine articles, on tv shows, in the newspapers. It was of those things that I knew I should probably read but, geez it was about seagulls. I live on the east coast and seagulls are part of my daily life so it didn't seem very interesting to me.

So here we are 40 years later and I just happened to find a cheap copy somewhere and figured I might as well check it out. It wasn't what I expected at all. For one thing it's more novella than novel. 127 pages and a lot of those are photos of seagulls which may be great in their originals but the reproductions in the book I have are horribly grainy and boring, like newspaper pictures.

The characters are talking seagulls who seem to have some internal measuring mechanism that can tell them at what speed they're flying. The plot is a confusing mixture of inspirational "you-can-do-whatever-you-put-your-mind-to" stuff, a little bit of sci-fi that doesn't seem to fit at all, and some misguided spiritual imagery and platitudes. It's an allegory that never quite gets there; it might not even know where "there" is.

On the cover of my copy it says "The Glorious #1 Bestseller". I seem to have missed the glorious part. It reminds me a bit of The Alchemist which I also didn't like. I know if I took the time to read it more deeply I might get more out of it, but it's been a crappy week, and I've been sick so I'm not really hearing the "life is beautiful" message right now. I'll put it back on my shelf and maybe get into it a little deeper some other time. For now, this one isn't for me and I can't really recommend it at all.


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