Hold the Enlightenment

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Over the years, Tim Cahill has become one of America’s most beloved eccentric adventure writers. He can almost always be counted on to go to the most unusual locations and write the most moving and humorous essays about these fascinating places. Cahill published his first collection of travel essays, Jaguars Ripped My Flesh, in 1987. Since then his collections have been eagerly awaited by an ever-growing readership. The tone of his books is made abundantly clear by the wonderfully offbeat titles that he has employed, including such hilarious examples as A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg (1989), Pecked to Death by Ducks (1993), and Pass the Butterworms (1997). Cahill has stated that he sees no reason for someone to become “jaded” about the world, and that no one can ever really “exhaust” the many wonders to be found in the world.

For Hold the Enlightenment: More Travel, Less Bliss, he has gathered thirty essays that take the reader to the far reaches of the world. The title essay finds Cahill in Jamaica doing his best to learn yoga. He opens the essay with the quip “I am not a yoga kind of guy.” The reader makes a mental note and then reads on to discover how a man presumably out of his element survives yoga class. After reading the remaining twenty- nine essays, yoga seems like one of the more tame adventures of Hold the Enlightenment.

Cahill thrives on taking the road less traveled, and is a master at bringing the reader along for the ride. Whether he is diving in the waters off South Africa where the great white sharks swim or hoping to come upon the rare Caspian tiger in the Kurdish area that borders Iraq, Cahill is never at a loss to find both the humor and poignancy of the moment. All armchair adventurers can be grateful that Cahill is more than willing to put himself in harms way and that he relishes the retelling of such extraordinarily delicious tales.