Mr. Alan is a British journalist and this search for a country and a person (the Spanish father he never knew) is ambient, informing and civilized (insets of it have appeared in The New Leader, Commentary, etc.). His interests are as varied as the manifold, protean and essentially contradictory aspects of the country through which he travels (according to one observer--Spain is the ""citadel of the individual""; or another ""we dress alike, talk alike, think alike""). From Toulouse and a mythical ""terrorist school"" to the Costa Brava with its foreign colony of frayed conquistadors, Mr. Alan travels through virtually all of Spain, Tarragona, Zaragoza, Barcelona, hospitable Aragon and the secretive Basque country, Madrid of course, etc., etc. Much is observed and overheard: always there's the Church (""behind the clergy with a candle or a cudgel""), its cult of Pilar and its present day aspects of reform; the diversity of Spain's regions and thus its national character; its beautiful women who run to fat eating bread; its language (some charming asides); its more obvious food, fiestas and corridas; its older legacies and that newer acquisition--Franco's Escorial, an ""exercise in self-glorification""--to isolate a little in this animated and acute commentary. It may well bring to mind Gerald Brenan's interpretative Spanish landscapes--a comparison the book can stand and a compliment by implication.