Kate Wilson
July 22, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

W. Hodding Carter wakes traveling companion Preston Maybank with, ”I think I’ve been bitten by a brown recluse.” Preston answers, ”I hope you die.” That’s how the whole trip goes when two friends retrace Lewis and Clark’s Missouri-to-Oregon trail the modern way — by boat, car, horse, foot, and hitchhiking, in Westward Whoa: In the Wake of Lewis and Clark. (Carter frets that one driver ”might be a mass murderer…. This truck bed is immaculate. He probably just cleaned all the blood out.”) The memoir is one-fifth wildlife studies, while the rest is a charmingly wide-eyed appreciation of lower alimentary canals: Carter measures, describes, and collects animal droppings; a thoughtfully annotated trail map marks Preston’s first diarrhea attack; and Preston even breaks his ribs in Montana while getting even with flatulent horses. It’s Animal House on a nature hike, and the only person who won’t think it’s funny is your mother. A

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