EXPLORER by Douchan Gersi


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In his first (and exciting) book, professional explorer-filmmaker Gersi, producer/director/star of the PBS series Explore, chronicles some of his colorful exploits in remote corners of southeast Asia. Gersi opens with a summation of the reasons for his explorer's life: the thrill of living on the edge; the conquering of self-limits: the chance to live by alien cultural values--important keys to understanding the relish with which Gersi threw himself into the outrageous, hair-raising situations that pack this energetic memoir. He begins with a trip as a 20-year-old to investigate Filipino headhunting tribes (""I felt that in taking some kind of extreme risk I would fulfill my destiny"") that wound up with his sharing a blood oath with a young headhunter. Subsequently, his lust ""to fulfill the possibilities of life"" propelled him to sail with sea gypsies around the Sulu Archipelago (and to battle the hordes of pirates still operating there), and to explore the jungles of Borneo on three separate expeditions. It's during his account of the first Borneo trip that Gersi's adventurelog reaches its climax: separated from his fellows and supplies, he wanders for eight days (I forced myself to eat two long worms. . .a bunch of ants, and a few leeches"") and enters into a mystic/sexual union with the jungle (""I drove the messenger of my soul into a soft mossy cavity [of a tree] ""). Rescued by Punan warriors, on his third Borneo expedition he joins their tribe, submitting to a harrowing initiation that included immersion into a pit of carnivorous ants and being hunted for three days as their prey. Fascinating as a document of one man's headlong lunge for novelty at nearly any risk, and chock-full of full-blooded (if purple-prosed) exotic adventure. Still, not much more sophisticated than a man's pulp mag; for more literate adventure fare, see Tim Cahill's Jaguars Ripped My Flesh (p. 1206).

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 1987
Publisher: Tarcher--dist. by St. Martin's