The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer: Close Encounters with Strangers
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The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer: Close Encounters with Strangers

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  298 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Eric Hansen survives a cyclone on a boat off the Australian coast, cradles a dying man in Calcutta, and drinks mind-altering kava in Vanuatu. He helps a widower search for his wife's wedding ring amid plane-crash wreckage in Borneo and accompanies topless dancers on a bird-watching expedition in California. From the Maldives to Sacramento, from Cannes to Washington Heights...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 18th 2005 by Vintage (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Milan/zzz
I really didn’t know what to expect from this book. I didn’t even know it is collection of travel-vignettes. Therefore my expectations were nonexistent. I just picked up the book and let myself to be carried away. And oh far shores I’ve visited, strange people I saw and some great lessons I’ve learned :)

Now I know that my expectations no matter how high they would might be, they would be more than fulfilled. This book is beautiful. Hansen writes honestly and directly about wide spectrum of human...more
Gaelle
Jul 10, 2008 Gaelle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any traveler, timorous or adventurous
Unbelievable to think it is a non-fiction book but real memoirs of a world traveler.Eric Hansen's adventures are gripping as they sound so true. I think he's currently the best travel writer,and here we are talking about real traveler experience: forget Rick Steves... Hansen will not help you put together a nice "touristy" trip somewhere...
It is hard core travel where there's no defined date of arrival or departure, where weird and unexpected situations generate heartbreaking or hilarious experi...more
Daren
Articulate and captivating. Interesting stories, all very different, and thoroughly entertaining.
Linda
Eric Hansen is a cut above the average travel essayist. Dubbed creative non-fiction, his stories are poignant, well-crafted and heart felt. His well-informed descriptive writing is crisp and engaging. His renderings of the people he has met over three decades of globe trotting are tender, but never saccharine. His professionalism shines through in this well-crafted collection of travel tales. Not the ordinary tourist he plunges headlong into adventures that are daunting to even the most adventur...more
Karen Deyle
I'm a hopeless travel junkie, but find most travel essays are hashed over "look what I ate, drank & saw" in Tuscany/Provence/Ireland. Not here. Hansen writes of encounters with strange and unusual people in seldom written about locales.

Most compelling:
A Russian socialite & caterer who lives elegantly and safely in an apartment overun by drug activities and violence.

Traveling with the husband of a woman killed in a plane crash, to the Borneo crash site in search of her wedding ring, and...more
Joanna
These stories were suprisingly touching. He writes honestly about his own less-than-ideal feelings and choices and describes the people in the stories with vivid and frank vignettes. But even where some humor is found in cultural differences, Hansen writes with recognition and celebration of difference rather than just poking fun. The author seems to have collected these stories from a lifetime of travel and travel writing. Some of the stories seem to have been written many years after the event...more
Erick San Miguel
Love this book so far! From the beginning I could not out it down. The idea of meeting people randomly and talking to or conversing with them to later just write about it is something I have always wanted to do and it is done here beautifully. Excellent!

The ending was just as good as the beginning. I really enjoyed Mr. Hansen's writing style and subjects. You feel as though you are part of his adventures and stories through his words and meeting the people through his use of characterization and...more
Rhonda
I must admit that I will pick up almost any travel book and at least "start" to read it, but this one struck me as different. It's not really a travel book in the strictest sense, but it does lead you along a remarkable journey where you meet some of the most memorable characters in the daily experience of human encounters. I laughed at some of the insane situations and baudy humor but also shed true tears in many places. And I was never bored, always a good recommendation in my book. Thanks Mr....more
Ann
I read this for my book club; when I heard the title I thought it was going to be either science fiction or weird counter-culture stuff. It turns out that Eric Hansen is a travel author, but this book, a collection of essays, is much more about the people than the places. He writes with style and humor and is just a joy to read. His attention to detail adds to the fun. There are lots of characters with lots of quirks of personality and behavior but he treats them all with respect. I'll read more...more
Maria (Ri)


Journal Entry 2 by Wings details...RiWings details... from Cincinnati, Ohio USA on Monday, December 17, 2007

Not only was this book entertaining, it had a surprising amount of heart. I was really touched by several of the vignettes. I also really appreciated reading about his adventures in Indonesia where I spent a semester of college. I will definitely be searching out more books by Eric Hansen!
Lucius
The most enjoyable read I've had in a while. All the short stories are about Hansen's experience with people that he didn't know before, but he writes about them in such a thoughtful way that it seems as if he's know them for years. What surprised me the most was the amount of emotion that I felt reading through the stories. This will be a book that I send to friends to read for years to come.
Margaret Ross
The stories in this book may be a little uneven, but overall, it's a great read if you're a wanderer at heart, or want to better understand someone who is. The author recounts his adventures in New Guinea, the South Pacific, NYC and central California, among other places. A couple of the stories entranced me, others were just interesting encounters with strangers.
Haley Knisely
Fun, fun, and I laughed a little :P
Katie
This book is a collection of stories about the author's experiences traveling the world. I really like the way the author relates to the people he encounters while traveling. His tone never sounds patronizing or condescending, and he seems to have very genuine interactions with the people he meets. I am interested to read more by Hansen.
Kate
Was a refreshing look at a way of traveling that few are comfortable with, aka breaking out of the normal travel routines and really "seeing" real places and more important the inhabitants of these homes and lives.

This author is a great story teller and makes me wish I were able to travel with him right now this instant!!
Candy
I found this to be a charming book. It was well written, flowed easily and written from the heart of a true wanderer. It definitely made me want to read more of his books. It took me to places I've never been and probably never will be (Borneo). He is a true seeker - finding strangers and telling their stories.
Steph
Travel writer Eric Hansen does himself proud in these essays predominately recounting his adventures in the southern islands of Asia. Nice variety of topics, with two essays on an Australian island that he re-visits after 20 or so years.
I would eagerly read any of his other books.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
This book was just pure fun. Hansen drinks intoxicating kava with native islanders, helps a widower search for the diamond ring his dead wife lost during a plane crash, and visits with a bird watcher who loves to take exotic dancers out on hunts.



Marina56
I would describe this as a series of vignettes of some uniquely interesting individuals, rather than as a travel book. There is something strangely uplifting about these stories and their glimpses into human hearts. One of my favorite books ever.
Molly Dumas
Yowzaa. Worth getting just to read the description of sex between banana slugs. But it does offer 9 short articles of different folks/experiences Eric Hansen has had as he's traveled around the world. Definitely amusing.
Susan Hanberry
Loved this book. Wonderful essays about a varied and fascinating group of people - from an aging Russian emigree to bird watchers. Touching, funny - all sincere and written with respect. Highly recommend.
Rebecca
I didn't know that this had come out until I was on this site. I enjoy all of Eric Hansen's writing and this short collection of essays is just as satisfying and entertaining as anything else he's written.
William
Hansen's adventures are exotic enough -- but his observations and understandings of what he witnesses are what makes his various essays worth reading. He is a splendid travel companion.
Melissa Cavanaugh
An excellent perspective into numerous places, cultures, and people from a writer who clearly has no compunctions about talking to anyone. A little full of himself sometimes, but worth it.
Sarah Vanden Bosch
Short stories about the author's travels around the world. If you are so inclined it may trigger a serious case of wanderlust. Some better than others, but all worth reading!
Blaine
Something different for me. This book of essays about Eric Hansen's time in Asia Pac was interesting. Not usually my genre, but definitely readable.
Mntwmyn
Great travel lit. More a series of discrete essays on various places rather than a single narrative. Very highly recommended if you like travel lit.
Margaret
This book is great for a quick pickmeup. It is full of naratives of the authors andthe people he has meet while traveling and working as a journalist.
Megankellie
I wanted to know more about HIM. I kept wondering about his life, his girlfriend, how he manages it all. Still. I liked. Good stories.
Marilyn
Liked this book alot - mostly because it introduced me to Eric Hansen's writing. Read his Motoring with Mohammed!
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