It would be a bloody shame if a book review site named The Evil Parrot Book Club did not have a review of, at least, one book that featured a parrot. So, thankfully, that is not going to happen. But you knew that from the way this started out. Tragedy averted. Back in the late 80s to early 90s, the folks at PBS had featured a documentary called Parrots: Look Who’s Talking, that featured a charming yet brilliant African Grey Parrot. That African Grey Parrot was named Alex.
The book, Alex and Me, written by Irene Pepperberg, is a touching story about an adorable African Grey Parrot that she took under wing (no pun intended … ok, maybe a little) and basically changed the way how the world viewed animals and their behaviour. Especially, the world of parrots. Heaven knows they can do without the pirate stereotypes and “polly-wanna-cracker” jokes. The eerie thing about Alex and Me is that as you read this book, you somehow miss the point that you’re reading about a parrot and occasionally mistake Alex for a child. It is only when you read about Dr. Pepperberg locking Alex in his cage, that the reality does kicks in … why yes, this IS an actual parrot that we’re talking about. And yes, he is really an amazing bird. Ironically, before his passing Alex was tested to have the equivalent IQ of a four-year old child (or the combined collective IQ of reality tv stars that appear in Bridezillas, Bad Girls Club and the Housewives series … combined). What was even more amazing was reading about Alex “mentoring” other African Greys that Dr. Pepperberg took under wing to include in her studies. It is safe to say that people that often refer to other people as “birdbrains” have never met Alex. The book is a fascinating journey that documents the Dr. Pepperberg studies (minus the technical blabber) and the brilliant feathered star that was a product of it. In another sense, it is a touching tribute to a charming, brilliant yet cunning (he always found ways to get lab assistants to circumvent his training in order to obtain food and head rubs) creature whose life ended abruptly and in the most heart shredding way possible. And this was evident from the outpouring from around the world that was sent to Dr. Pepperberg upon learning about the passing of Alex. Yes, I teared up. Please don’t mention this to anyone. I have a reputation to uphold as an Evil Parrot. Thanks for understanding.
Truly touching, very fascinating, and even eye-opening, Alex and Me, is a delightful, hearty read. And I can’t help but think that the world is somewhat, slightly, better for Dr. Pepperberg’s introduction of Alex to the world. My honest and humble opinion.