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Pass the Butterworms: Remote Journeys Oddly Rendered Paperback – March 31, 1998

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 31, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375701117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375701115
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
An added bonus is his lyrical writing; his descriptions are magic.
Finding a used copy was worth the time, and everyone should read this, if they ever think of walking into the world.
Great story teller and great primer for anyone planning adventure travel.
Eric Sweet

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on January 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
No butterworms, but plenty of reasons why not to live in Honduras, the joys of watching the international spear fishing competition (similar to watching the grass grow) and how to work the crowd of hostile natives (laugh a lot).
Tim Cahill is an unabashed delight. If I had to go all or any of these places, he's my pick of a companion. Funny, quirky, compassionate and I suspect a lot more competent than he lets on. An added bonus is his lyrical writing; his descriptions are magic. His analysis of bringing stone age people into the age of technology is thoughtful, insightful and all empathy.
In the essay, "On the River of Cold Fire" I have never read a better description of a totally cold, wet miserable journey. All the times, we have said "If I ever get out of here---" are summed up in this article.
I've decided I will forgive him for accusing Emily Dickinson of over-editing and even his titles. It is so difficult to tell your loved ones you want "A Jaguar Ripped My Flesh" or "A Wolverine is Eating My Leg" for your birthday. But be firm. Insist these are what you really want.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I've been a big fan of Tim Cahill for as long as he has been compiling his articles into books. Years ago, he was fending off sharks armed only with a nail-tipped broomstick or avoiding the bite of poisonous sea snakes while drunken diving (sic) or evading mysterious armed intruders among the ruins of Peru's mountains. At least, that is what I was particularly drawn to as a testosterone-charged adolescent growing into adulthood. Back then, his spectacular piece, "The Shame of Escobilla," had less appeal for me because it was missing the feats of derring-do that I thought I read Tim Cahill for.

Mr. Cahill is mellowing out with age, and it suits me perfectly. His stories still have the twisted humor that has always been a hallmark of Tim Cahill. But there is a lot more of the "why" around different cultures and different species. I find myself putting the book down often and wanting to share what I just read with someone else, rather than quickly getting to the next story to see what that wacky Tim is going to do next. And I find that I am enjoying it.

My only complaint is that Tim Cahill does so much travelling around that he doesn't do enough writing. I wish he would publish a book every year instead of every three. Either that or begin to take me on his travels.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on April 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
Here's another winning collection from Cahill, who takes all the risks of travel to remote and dangerous places and reports his travails in a humble and good-natured style. In this book we witness Cahill coming down with recurring malaria, going numb while posing for rock-climbing photos, and taking a great many falls and spills, usually resulting in embarrassing injuries. Much of Cahill's trademark sarcastic humor is missing from this particular collection, which seems to (intentionally or unintentionally) focus on more descriptive and serious examples of Cahill's writing. Some of the essays here are unexpectedly deep and even disturbing, such as the self-explanatory "Search and Rescue" and the real winner of the book, "A Darkness on the River," in which Cahill analyzes the murder of his friend's son. This book also has several interrelated pieces on the challenges faced by indigenous peoples in Irian Jaya, and the not-so-certain benefits of ecotourism in Honduras. The collection is held back from greatness by some sketchy and fragmented short pieces that don't offer any true insights, such as "Buford's Revenge" or "Help My Pilot..." but these may be useful for Cahill's more star-crossed fans. In any case, Cahill almost always brings us along for an enjoyable ride as he gets himself into all sorts of hardship for our amusement. ...
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. K. Kelley on December 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
How could anyone not like a chapter referring to Yogurt Riders? Tim Cahill's style is frank, entertaining and informal.
As with most of his other books, Tim has gone out and done a lot of interesting traveling. He's always willing to write about embarrassing himself if need be, and I doubt he embellishes much if at all. _Butterworms_ is a collection of stories of these sorts of travels, and is well worth your time and money.
A special note: Cahill books make superb gifts in my experience--anyone interested in new things and places tends to like them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Woodley on August 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Tim Cahill is one of those lovely everyman travellers, he is an observer, a victim, a traveller, and a very good writer of it all. This, a collection of his essays for various magazines but mostly Outside, is a nice mixture of some of his journeys.

This is quite a nice way to read travel sometimes and I think it works well for Cahill - you can just read one or two bits, or miss the stuff you don't want to read. Great for travelling with a book like this, bus rides, train rides etc can be easily chapterised.

Not all of what he writes is funny, or meant to be. The thing I like most about his writing is that he is prepared to be the butt of his own humour when it is appropriate. I also like him as an observer of what is around him - for instance in Family Values in the Raw he talks about his visit to the Dani People and about the missionarys there - they grow "70 different types of potatoes, each tastier than the last" and to the Missionary opining they were going to satan, he observes that in fact they seem to have good family values, they certainly don't stand around on street corners drinking and yelling "hubba, hubba" at passing women.

This is a really mixed bag of stories and situations - from people to places to groups - even to the North Pole - "the easy way"

Anything by Tim Cahill is a definite must read in my book - and this a great place to start if you haven't read him before.
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