cover image Pecked to Death by Ducks

Pecked to Death by Ducks

Tim Cahill. Random House (NY), $23 (377pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40735-5

There are no ducks in this book; the title simply appealed to the author as expressive of this hodgepodge of pieces about his own and others' adventures. Cahill ( Road Fever ), a contributing editor of Outside magazine, where many of these articles appeared, covered amazing jaunts: the exploration by spelunkers of the newly discovered Lechuguilla Cave near Carlsbad, N.M.; a trip of sea-kayakers in the Gulf of California; the arrest of members of the Dangerous Sports Club who, dressed in tuxedos and looking for fun and attention, jumped off a Bristol, England, bridge on elastic bungee cords. Cahill searched for giant clams in Tonga, fished in Guatemala, and interviewed diamond miners in Brazil and ranchers in Montana. He has dived with sharks, jumped out of airplanes, climbed mountains in Africa and South America, trekked through equatorial jungles and, as he explains, generally scared himself silly. But, unfortunately, for him and for those he writes about, risk generates a euphoria that these pedestrian reports do not always convey. (Feb.)