Bluebirds to Tikal

Stories of Fun, Fear, & Folly

Non-Fiction - Humor/Comedy
222 Pages
Reviewed on 11/06/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite

David Hann has penned twenty-eight stories of multiple genres in his book Bluebirds to Tikal: Stories of Fun, Fear, & Folly. The author takes his readers on a journey through foreign locations and explains certain aspects of foreign cultures, provides glimpses of military life, and gives a view of an experience riding on the rails on boxcars. The narratives fall into five groups, and the author provides an overview of each tale of the subtitled “fun, fear, and folly” in the introduction.

From traveling to history, hilarious chronicles, and a touch of horror, David Hann reveals his knack for immersive storytelling. Readers will discover nuggets of history and lessons in culture as they read these tales, and most of them are either the author’s adventures or experiences related to him by a close source. The narration is conversational and easy to follow and the author easily explains things that may not be apparent to all readers. Told in bite-sized chunks, readers will enjoy each story individually or appreciate the book as a whole. Particularly, history buffs will like Hann’s descriptions of boxcar riding, the hazards of coal mining, the potential of contracting Black Lung, and his perspective on the military. The reader will develop a personal view of the author as he shares his stories and they become invested in every account. Bluebirds to Tikal is a great selection for readers who enjoy varied short stories and want to feel nostalgic or learn more about the recent past as they’re being entertained.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

Bluebirds to Tikal: Stories of Fun, Fear, & Folly by David Hann is a collection of twenty-two short stories ranging from his personal experiences to anecdotes his relatives shared with him. Some of them, including Flat Tire In Turkey and Elmira And The Buffalo, narrate his traveling experiences to different countries. One section consists of the recounted memories from his days in the Marine Corps and the Vietnam War. The final section includes a motley of personal and fictional stories, Bad Press and The Noble Ladies prominent among them.

The first thing to strike me while reading the book was how vast and enriching Hann’s experiences were. He had quite an extensive repertoire of memorable incidents, which he relates here for us to enjoy. The portrayal of different cultures in the travel stories was enlightening. I loved how he retold the stories he accumulated from his relatives while adding his signature flair. Most of the stories had a central theme of humor. I was amazed at how he found laughter everywhere, even during the rigors of the training camp or in the midst of a battle. Hann’s storytelling was spot on, no matter how varied his topics or how divergent his characters were. Be it a cougar cub enjoying a car ride, a potential criminal enjoying the deliciousness of wild berries, a snake intent on staying indoors, or a toddler intent on playing fetch with Christmas décor - each story made its mark. I recommend Bluebirds to Tikal: Stories of Fun, Fear, & Folly, a medley of assorted stories, to anyone looking for an intriguing yet fun read.

Nino Lobiladze

Bluebirds to Tikal by David Hann is a compelling collection of nonfiction short stories. Some of the stories are the author's recollections; some are the memories of his relatives and friends. Bluebirds to Tikal offers us a variety of themes. "Bluebirds to Tikal" is a humorous account of the family trip to the ruins in Tikal, Guatemala, that the Hanns took despite the political unrest in the country. "Flat Tire in Turkey" and "Surprise Party in Bishkek" touch on the hospitality and friendliness of the Turkish and Kyrgyz people, while "Elmira and the Buffalo" speaks about an unforgettable encounter between David, his Japanese and Kyrgyz colleagues, and magnificent wild animals at Ray Smith's ranch in Kansas. Other stories, like "Yellow Footprints" and "Getting to Vietnam," tell us about David's service in the Marine Corps and his tour in Vietnam in 1966. "Adventures on the Rails" and "Ed Rosetta" revive the history of America's hard-working people and the challenges they faced in the first half of the twentieth century.

David Hann is a gifted storyteller. As I was reading Bluebirds to Tikal, I forgot that the stories were nonfiction. It was very hard to put this book down because of David's appealing writing style and subtle humor. I appreciated David's kindness toward the Kyrgyz people and his understanding of the traditions of Kyrgyzstan, as well as his genuine interest in Turkey and the Turkish language. David gives authentic voices to the narrators of such stories as "Ed Rosetta" and "Adventures on the Rails." The author's sympathy toward a retired coal miner who struggled to get a well-deserved pension shines through the pages of this engaging short story. I encourage readers who generally avoid military-themed prose to read David's stories about the Marine Corps. For me, "Bury Me with My Friend" became an eye-opener. This moving account led me to realize that Vietnam veterans deserve gratitude for their service not only from Americans but from people worldwide. Overall, Bluebirds to Tikal is a true gift to fans of nonfiction, memoirs, historical, adventurous, and short prose.