Pecked To Death By Ducks by Tim Cahill

Pecked To Death By Ducks

In his latest tour of the earth's remote, exotic, and dismal places, the author of Road Fever and A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg, sleeps with a grizzly bear, witnesses demonic possession in Bali, and survives a run-in with something called the Throne of Doom in Guatemala. Vivid and outrageously funny....

Title:Pecked To Death By Ducks
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Pecked To Death By Ducks Reviews

  • N W James

    tim cahill is my favorite travel journalist. Yes, he gets all macho sometimes, but mostly he digs into the humor and the genuine belonging he finds with the people he pulls these stunts with for a paycheck. He may go into war torn or gang torn parts of the world to get a story, but he comes out of it writing like a poet every single time. If you're not sure what I mean, get this book and read Baja by Kayak, page 172.

    They get swarmed by wasps, they tip into the Pacific, they get lost after dark

    tim cahill is my favorite travel journalist. Yes, he gets all macho sometimes, but mostly he digs into the humor and the genuine belonging he finds with the people he pulls these stunts with for a paycheck. He may go into war torn or gang torn parts of the world to get a story, but he comes out of it writing like a poet every single time. If you're not sure what I mean, get this book and read Baja by Kayak, page 172.

    They get swarmed by wasps, they tip into the Pacific, they get lost after dark but Cahill brings it all together with a young Mexican man that speaks no English not wanting to take a sip of the tequila the people are passing around because of the 8 year old girl who only speaks English asleep in his arms.

    Don't let the title of the book fool you. These articles are beautifully written.

  • Meadow

    My favorite title of all his books.

  • Obornys

    I read this book because I like Tim Cahill, and because of the crazy title. The author does a lot of writing for "outdoorsy" magazines. Knowing that about the author made this book that much more believable and added to my enjoyment of it. Personally, I don't think you can fully enjoy a travel novel if its overly embellished. If ya like mountain climbing, spelunking, para-sailing, falconry, kayaking, or anything really cool, you should read this.

  • Heather

    I'm not sure why I didn't like this book more. It seemed great "on paper"...it's a collection of essays about traveling around the world, and I usually love that type of thing. It's funny at some parts and very serious at others, which I also like, and it really made me think. Cahill provides an interesting blend of facts/research with personal anecdotes. For some reason, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would (perhaps it was my mood?), but I still found it worthwhile.

  • Steven Williams

    This book helped me realize my dream of one day owning a llama ranch.

  • Scott Bischke

    Recalling this book from long ago, loved it as I seem to love most of Cahill's writing. He has a great knack for capturing the essence of being in the outdoors, often focusing on adventure in the outdoors, in a unique and insightful and fun(ny!) way. Here's an example:

    ---

    What happens in the woods is this: The mind is forced to deal with certain niggling but elemental details. Those things we take for granted--shelter, food, basic conveniences, comfort, brute survival--require all our attention a

    Recalling this book from long ago, loved it as I seem to love most of Cahill's writing. He has a great knack for capturing the essence of being in the outdoors, often focusing on adventure in the outdoors, in a unique and insightful and fun(ny!) way. Here's an example:

    ---

    What happens in the woods is this: The mind is forced to deal with certain niggling but elemental details. Those things we take for granted--shelter, food, basic conveniences, comfort, brute survival--require all our attention and must be attended to. When a storm is blowing in and the tent isn't set up, worrying about mortgages and outlines is a luxury. Later, such concerns seem an impostition. Primitive necessity, it seems, can snap the thread of linear thinking. It can send us skittering from deerflies directly into the cosmos.

    ---(pg 54)---

  • Bookworm Smith

    This book has a number of pros and a number of cons. My opinion flip flopped from good to bad as I read through the 300 or so pages. I eventually settled on a Do Not Read...although there were many parts I really enjoyed...so it's a very tentative Do Not Read. In other words, I might recommend it to a specific person but not to everyone I know.

    The title is what initially drew me in. Pecked to Death by Ducks - that sounds funny. Then I noticed a comment on the cover comparing Cahill's writing to

    This book has a number of pros and a number of cons. My opinion flip flopped from good to bad as I read through the 300 or so pages. I eventually settled on a Do Not Read...although there were many parts I really enjoyed...so it's a very tentative Do Not Read. In other words, I might recommend it to a specific person but not to everyone I know.

    The title is what initially drew me in. Pecked to Death by Ducks - that sounds funny. Then I noticed a comment on the cover comparing Cahill's writing to Anthony Bourdain and P.J. O'Rourke. I was in the mood for a snarky, wit filled, pithy travel log. The book's prologue is an explanation of the title where Cahill suggests he has a great sense of humour and that is why his books have such funny titles. Great, a humour book..or in this case, my first expectation shot down.

    The first chapter is intense. Very well written, not in a funny way, but in a shocking way that pulls you right in. Cahill describes a trip to Kuwait post Iraq war. Dead bodies, eerily quiet abandoned beachside resorts, and the flaming hells of the oil fires. It's a scene out of the apocalypse. What a great start to the book. A five star rating...but, that chapter soon ended and the book never made it back to that level.

    Many many more stories followed. From quick snippets of Cahill's trips to strange and exotic South Pacific islands to mundane accounts of his local travels through Montana. A handful of his travel accounts were interesting, but, the majority were mediocre and bland. Perhaps it was because I don't rock climb or take part in 'rope work' (there were more than a few chapters dealing with his mountain climbing or cave dropping) that I lost interest rather quickly.

    The humour and wit that was advertised on the book's cover was non existent from what I could tell. The few attempts at sarcasm, witty references, or jokes fell flat (like my souffles or Flat Stanley). I was very disappointed because my expectations were for a funny travel journal

  • Heather

    It took me forever to finish this book -- and I can't really figure out why. I like it, it's interesting, funny, and well-written. It just failed to... capture me. I suspect that I'm not terribly familar with personalities like TC's. When I read travel memoirs, they're usually more Bill Bryson-esque -- inept people falling over logs -- or Tony Horwitz-esque -- passionate intellectual dorks mixing humor and social commentary.

    In contrast, I suspect TC has a beard. An unironic beard. I suspect ever

    It took me forever to finish this book -- and I can't really figure out why. I like it, it's interesting, funny, and well-written. It just failed to... capture me. I suspect that I'm not terribly familar with personalities like TC's. When I read travel memoirs, they're usually more Bill Bryson-esque -- inept people falling over logs -- or Tony Horwitz-esque -- passionate intellectual dorks mixing humor and social commentary.

    In contrast, I suspect TC has a beard. An unironic beard. I suspect everyone he hangs out with has unironic beards also. He probably goes to gritty bars in small towns in Mexcio where the bartender knows him by name. He drinks from shot glasses whatever Ernest Hemingway would have drunk. He was in Wherever, Third World just after the revolution. He was on the last steamboat out of Wherever just before the revolution started. He probably knows how to smoke, not because he's a smoker but because it's one of those things men like him just know how to do.

    I think he's probably an old school conservationist -- the kind who know how to gut things and who want to save the natural world so they can continue to be rugged out on it. (As opposed to the sort I'm more familiar with -- 22 year old women with lower back tatoos who want to swim with the dolphins.) If TC has a tatoo, I suspect it's green.

    In short, so much unironic manliness was a bit like taking a shot of testosterone straight to the head. Made me wonder if I should stop reading to scratch.

    The irony is that sometimes TC thinks he is Bill Bryson. He knows guys much tougher than he is and so in comparison he feels like the one falling off logs. He's the writer who can climb a mountain rather than a mountain climber. So there's this weird self-aware / lack of self-awareness thing going on -- "Oh yes, I'm writing in this tough manly tradition. Oh but I'm subverting the tradition by not being tough and manly. Oh but see how tough and manly I am because I do it all anyway."

    Which brings me back around to the fact that it is a good collection, just maybe from a world I don't know much about. The piece on the llamas alone is worth giving it shelf space. But I'm pretty sure Tim Cahill and I don't travel the same way, go the same places, or do any of the same things when we get there.

  • Wendell

    This book has been on my “to be read” list for a long time. Too long, as it turns out, just like when you leave a bottle of wine in the closet for ages because you’re “saving it.” At a certain point, it’ll never be as good as it might have been had you’d opened it in good time. Not only do several of essays in this collection show their age, but there is a sameness to Cahill’s writing– to his observations, his commentary, his sense of humor – that wears more than a bit thin.

    This book has been on my “to be read” list for a long time. Too long, as it turns out, just like when you leave a bottle of wine in the closet for ages because you’re “saving it.” At a certain point, it’ll never be as good as it might have been had you’d opened it in good time. Not only do several of essays in this collection show their age, but there is a sameness to Cahill’s writing– to his observations, his commentary, his sense of humor – that wears more than a bit thin.

    strikes one as a product of the Sebastian Junger Testosterone-Based School of Reportage and, at the remove of 20 years, Cahill's vision seems very 1990s and very small in scope.

  • Rex Fuller

    Halfway up the face of El Capitan, Yosemite, the climbing partner above him needs to relieve himself. Tempting the glacier to ice-bomb his kayak in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Finding his snowshoes ineffective going up the White Mountains, New Hampshire. Nightly dancing his version of the lambada–the “cowboy” lambada–to music from a radio hooked to a car battery with a shy teen girl high up in Peru’s Andes. Taking paragliding lessons “to float upon the wind, high above the mute and pitiless clay.” Cavi

    Halfway up the face of El Capitan, Yosemite, the climbing partner above him needs to relieve himself. Tempting the glacier to ice-bomb his kayak in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Finding his snowshoes ineffective going up the White Mountains, New Hampshire. Nightly dancing his version of the lambada–the “cowboy” lambada–to music from a radio hooked to a car battery with a shy teen girl high up in Peru’s Andes. Taking paragliding lessons “to float upon the wind, high above the mute and pitiless clay.” Caving among Lechuguilla’s impossible crystals. Learning the lowriding culture of tricked out cars in LA. Killing oil well fires in Kuwait where Iraqis had defecated in every room in the country. Sharing a campfire with fishermen in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California. Of these and many others, Cahill gives a true sense of the actual experience, straight from the gut, not taken too seriously. Great, great fun to read.


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