PASS THE BUTTERWORMS: Remote Journeys Oddly Rendered by Tim Cahill

PASS THE BUTTERWORMS: Remote Journeys Oddly Rendered

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Cahill (Pecked to Death by Ducks, 1993, etc.) delivers all the goods--vibrancy, wit, intelligence--anyone could hope for from adventure travel writing in this, his fourth, collection. There is not a turkey among these tales (which have appeared in magazines, mostly in Outside). A few of them are snappy little deskside essays--concerning malaria, how to keep Congolese bees from entering your nostrils, a testament to the family values of New Guinea's Dani people. But most concern Cahill's forte, ""remote travel oddly rendered."" There he sits, curled in the bow of a boat drifting through the unspeakably rotten weather of a Montana spring: ""It was beautiful in a savage and entirely unsettling manner""; or he may detail how sea-kayakers climb the front of monster waves, punch through the crest, and ride a rainbow of spray back to the sea's surface; he concocts a thralling fantasy of landing a small airplane after the pilot's gone and died on you (""when Geraldo Rivera calls to ask you to be on his show, you get to turn him down flat""). And there is a long piece set in Honduras, on a prospecting mission for an eco-tour group, that's all rough edges, a dispatch direct from the field, appealingly jagged, utterly memorable. Cahill's writing gets better all the time, his storytelling style evolving into an art form, his cracking-wiseass humor bevelled by every manner of nuance; waggish he may be, but he's also got a lot of brains. And what more could one ask? He's willing to die for his art. In the end, many of these adventures come down to ""one of those intangible things I'll own forever because I've paid for it, paid for it in equally intangible dues."" Cold comfort for Cahill, high entertainment for his readers.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0375701117
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Villard