Strained in effect, this latest by Uruguayan writer Galeano (the three-volume Memory of Fire) is a fragmentary pastiche of anecdote, commentary, legend and autobiography collectively stating the author's world view. Anti-American, and with leftist biases that now seem merely quaint rather than seminal, Galeano's recollections--liberally illustrated, and interspersed with Indian legends, fragments of dreams, and incidents assumed rich in paradox--cover his life in Uruguay, then exile in Spain and Argentina. Divided into such headings as the ""Origin of the World,"" ""Prophecies,"" ""Forgetting,"" and ""The Celebration of Contradictions,"" the most affecting parts of the book are the more personal pieces where ideology gives way to real emotions rather than what was politically correct. Galeano recalls, for instance, his return from exile and his crossing over into Uruguay as the power of the Uruguayan generals declines: ""I felt I was returning without having left: Montevideo, sleeping its eternal siesta on the sloping hills of the coast, indifferent to the wind that beats on it and calls to it. . .And I knew that I had been longing for home and that the hour for ending my exile had struck."" In other notable personal pieces, Galeano recalls his heart attack and the miscarriage of his child. For all the variety of material assembled, Galeano's fragments remain just that. And with his political concept of the world largely overtaken by events, this is ultimately only a memoir, not a message. The result is a thin and pretentious read.