JAGUARS RIPPED MY FLESH: Adventure is a Risky Business by Tim Cahill

JAGUARS RIPPED MY FLESH: Adventure is a Risky Business

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A crackling collection of first-person adventure essays, culled for the most part from Outside and Geo magazines, by the author of Buried Dreams. As the tongue-in-cheek title hints, Cahill is well aware of the lurid tradition of earlier adventure tales, in which eye-patched heroes battle blood-crazed zombies while half-naked nymphos breathe heavily in the background. Cahill's work is a deliberate anti-dote to this adolescent machismo. In his stories, ""actual human beings as opposed to real men"" encounter real-life adventures. The first essay, ""The Book of Survival,"" sets the tone by quoting the sage advice that the key to survival is to avoid survival situations. In ""The Lost World,"" a mesmerizing account of a visit to the prehistoric vistas of the Venezuelan interior, Cahill confesses, ""I am frightened by the jungle. I am frightened by the sickly sweet odors, by the moist darkness, by the dank fecundity."" His utter normality in the face of the unknown gives these essays their winsome flavor; we feel comfortable walking beside him as he unearths an ancient fortress (""Cahill Among the Ruins in Peru""), confronts a great silverback gorilla (""Life and Love in Gorilla Country""), and rides a turboprop cargo carrier into the eye of a hurricane (""Into the Eyewall""). Less dazzling but still dandy are his accounts of rock climbing in Yosemite, cave-diving (""the most dangerous risk sport in America"") in Florida, kayaking in Alaska, hang-gliding in Montana, and other pan-American adventures. Even in these quieter pieces, Cahill's metaphors strike like darts from a blowgun: ""I am standing on an inch-wide ledge. Every muscle in my legs is twitching rapidly up and down, like the needle in a sewing machine."" In sum, an anthology sure to trigger dormant longings in us all. Cahill shows that adventure is everyone's business.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Bantam