Travel writing has been popular since Herodotus
first jotted down his observations while journeying abroad. Now Tim Cahill adds Pass the Butterworms
to the genre, and a welcome addition it is. As in his earlier books Jaguars Ripped My Flesh, A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg,
and Pecked to Death by Ducks,
Mr. Cahill chronicles his trips to the far-flung corners of the world. Part of this author's charm is his resolute Everyman persona--he is neither remarkably brave nor extraordinarily competent. This is a man, after all, who capsizes his sea kayak in still waters and describes his rock-climbing experience as "hanging from a rope affixed to a diaper, which I am wearing in the place where diapers are most often worn. . . ."
Not all of Tim Cahill's essays in Pass the Butterworms are comic, however. Perhaps the most memorable in the collection is "A Darkness on the River," Cahill's account of the senseless murder of a friend's son in Peru and its aftermath. And even his funniest tales have a bittersweet quality to them--the inevitable by-product of an outsider looking in.
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From Publishers Weekly
Cahill (Jaguars Ripped My Flesh) has a reputation for reporting his intrepid treks with wit and sensitivity, and in this collection, mainly from Outside magazine, he does not disappoint. Many of his 24 stories are perverse romps: in Mongolia, he pursues archeological data while surviving physical assaults (the locals think him a hated Russian), "operatic weather" and horses that practice "the Mongolian Death Trot." Recounting the history of his recurrent malaria, Cahill quips that he has adopted a steak-and-gin-and-tonic diet for health reasons. On the coast of Honduras, he makes such fast friendships with local children that he becomes known as "Se?or Wazoo." But Cahill has a more reflective side, one that recognizes that the wilderness is a place to test ourselves and that progress has its contradictions. Investigating the death of an idealistic young American in remote Peru, he captures a moment in which the local tribesmen finally recognize that the victim was not an enemy but a brother. On the undeveloped island of Bonaire, he realizes that scuba diving can still astonish him. And among the Stone Age tribe of the Karowai in Indonesia, Cahill finds himself regretting the advance of homogenizing modernity but discerning that his subjects, wanting new axes, "did not equate drudgery with any kind of nobility." Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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