Home Arts-Entertainment The Bookworm Says: 'Chicken Chronicles' Is a Captivating Memoir

The Bookworm Says: 'Chicken Chronicles' Is a Captivating Memoir

The Bookworm Says: 'Chicken Chronicles' Is a Captivating Memoir

“The Chicken Chronicles” by Alice Walker. Copyright 2011, The New Press. $21.95. 186 pages

Author Alice Walker, author of "The Color Purple" among othr well known books, is a chicken person, but not just the way a person who likes dogs or cat is a dog or cat person.

In her memoir, “The Chicken Chronicles,” she writes about her newfound friends and what they taught her about life.

Alice Walker had never seen a chicken before.

Well, naturally, she’d seen chickens. Of course she had. As a child growing up in Georgia it was her responsibility to chase down Sunday dinner. She collected plenty of eggs in her lifetime, too; some for food and some for music lessons.

But she had never really seen a chicken – never really looked at it in all its chickenness – until she noticed a hen with her brood that somehow made her look twice. Years passed, but the enticing memory of that hen never left Walker’s mind.

And then, one night after supper with neighbors, the conversation turned to chickens and Walker’s longing for them. It was quickly decided that the neighbors would take chick duty and Walker would provide a “chicken condo” for grown birds. Walker built nesting boxes “lovingly and with hopefulness filled with straw.”

By mid-summer, the chickens were hers to tend so, on a metal stool she’d bought decades before but had never used, Walker perched to meet them. She was surprised at the warmth of the birds, their vibrant colors, and their individuality – each had its own personality. They liked it when she talked to them and they snuggled like kittens. Soon, she was referring to herself as “Mommy” and her chickens responded.

There was Babe, the one who first trusted Walker. There was Rufus and Agnes of God, aggressive chickens who reminded Walker of race relations and who were “surely” roosters until they began to lay eggs. There was Glorious, who died during a tumultuous time; the Red Gang of Six who eventually were all named Gladys; and other chickens who taught Walker to be mindful of lessons from the past and the preciousness of the present.

If some recent memoirs have you crying “Fowl!” then try this little delight. You won’t be disappointed.

With an eye for wonderment and plenty of surprisingly wry humor, author Alice Walker shakes up fans with a memoir that’s nothing like her novels. Instead, “The Chicken Chronicles” is a series of enchanted musings on Walker’s life and charitable works, the richly-imagined life of her pets, and a powerful sense of gratitude for friends, the Earth, and its gifts. I flew through this book, loving every page of it.

For pet lovers, chicken people, or anyone who craves a perfectly charming memoir, here’s one to read. “The Chicken Chronicles” is worth bringing home to roost.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books. Her self-syndicated book reviews appear in more than 260 newspapers.


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