TRAIL OF FEATHERS: In Search of the Birdmen of Peru

Tahir Shah, Author . Arcade $25.95 (273p) ISBN 978-1-55970-613-1

Being the type of guy who hangs about at shrunken head auctions, sleeps in hotel rooms washed in human blood and traverses the U.S. for a month without ever leaving an airport, Shah (Sorcerer's Apprentice) is comfortable in strange company. So when a fellow shrunken head devotee sends him a rust-colored feather dipped in blood and tells him to go in search of the Birdmen of Peru, there is no way he can refuse. Armed with cumbersome camping equipment and a vague idea that flight was invented long before the Wright Brothers, Shah traverses Peru as if at a treasure hunt, picking up clues in his quest to discover if the Incas could really fly. His beguiling ways, reflected in the seductive warmth of his writing, charm even the most exclusive strangers; they proffer an aborted llama fetus and guinea pig therapy for good fortune, then lead him to a sinking reed boat on the Amazon and a tribe of legendary cannibals, the Shuar, with whom he finally discovers ayahusasca—the secret of Incan flight. Shah's passion for the bizarre and grotesque suffuses the book, and his writing is inspired, very funny and always respectful of the traditions and cultures he encounters. Supported by a thorough appendix, this tale is as marvelously multifaceted and offbeat as its author's shrunken head obsession might lead one to expect. 16 pages color photos. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/22/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Hardcover - 273 pages - 978-0-297-64592-4
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-55970-677-3
Paperback - 273 pages - 978-1-61145-509-0
Ebook - 221 pages - 978-1-62872-261-1
Paperback - 422 pages - 978-1-291-52840-4
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