A collection of 35 essays--five of them unpublished until now--on everything from wolves in Texas to welterweight boxing champions in Philadelphia, by the prolific travel writer (African Calliope), essayist (Walking The Dead Diamond River) and storyteller (The Circle Home, Seven Rivers West, etc.). Hoagland's great charm--the peculiar talent that separates him from so many essayists who like to write about the differences between the city and the country--is his ability to consider both sides of the rural-urban question without ever once dismissing one or the other. Whether discussing jury duty in Manhattan, his love of turtles, or a walk through the woods in northern New Hampshire, he qualifies, argues, ruminates, observes with a kind of passionate distance that allows him to take all sides into account. He describes the woods from a city-dweller's viewpoint, the city from that of a partial bumpkin. Thus, alone up in the north woods for a long time, he begins to indulge in sophisticated sexual fantasies, and describes them in shocking, elaborate detail; stuck in jury duty, he describes his almost naive love for his fellow jurors. There are, admittedly, certain limits to Hoagland's writing--his sentences, his diction, his ""voice"" are all conventional--but for being urbane about the woods (especially in the knockout republished Hoagland favorite Walking the Dead Diamond River) and woodsy about the city (The Tugman's Passage), there's nobody quite like him. Quietly good, often deeply pleasing stuff.