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SHOOTING THE BOH:
A Woman's Voyage Down the Wildest River in Borneo
Author: Tracy Johnston
Kirkus Review
The jungles of Borneo can bring adventurers to their knees--and elevate adventurous writers to admirable heights, as evidenced by Eric Hansen's Stranger in the Forest (1987) and, now, by free-lance writer Johnston's smart, passionate account of rafting down the island's treacherous Boh River. When Johnston arrived in Jakarta on the first leg of her journey to the Boh, she learned that her luggage had remained in L.A.--a portent of miserable weeks to come. Ill-equipped but still game, she joined her companions, who included--in addition to three guides paid for by Sobek, the travel company sponsoring Johnston as the trip's writer--two high-fashion models, a wealthy Italian, a Florida couple, a Chicago lawyer, and a pair of young Australians. Each flares to life on Johnston's crisp pages, but none more so than the author herself. For as much as an exciting jungle journey, Johnston's trip reveals itself as an odyssey of self-discovery during which she, the only group member over 40, enters menopause. And with the hot flashes that strike in the middle of the steaming nights comes knowledge of a border crossed: ``Yesterday, I had been young; today I was middle-aged.'' Always proud of her physical prowess, Johnston now must reorient herself as a woman whose primary challenges will be emotional and mental, not physical. And the trip itself develops into just such a challenge as the author and her companions struggle through Job-like trials generated by bees, leeches, ants, rapids, waterfalls, floods, rancid food, open sores, foot rot, moldy clothes, and, above all, the unrelenting wet heat that turns the jungle into a sauna from hell: ``I was surprised all over again at how spongy and rotten everything was. The entire forest floor was being devoured by ravenous microorganisms....'' A powerful adventure of the heart as well as the body: not to be missed.

From Publishers Weekly
This story of a journalist joining an expedition down the Boh River starts out as standard adventure travel fare, but the difference rapidly becomes apparent: this journalist is over 40, her luggage is lost on the flight over and cannot be recovered in time, and the expedition has been planned by a company that takes irresponsibility to a new level. Only when they are already on the river do the participants realize how difficult and dangerous their time together will be. All of them must deal with "insect stress" caused by bees that feast on human sweat, foot fungus, raging rapids, and perhaps an evil river spirit. On top of that, Johnston begins to have menopausal hot flashes and questions whether it is time to give up the thrill of risky journeys. Her descriptions of both natural phenomena and local customs are lyrical: she compares salespeople in an outdoor market to "baby birds, mouths open, arms aflutter." In writing about the seemingly cursed journey, Johnston keeps her chin up and sticks to what she calls "the adventure code of travel: go with the unexpected and make do with what you get." This engrossing and surprisingly upbeat tale accomplishes much more than that.
© 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
$12.95 (softcover)
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