A random collection of memories, part travelogue and diary, held together by light interjections of humor.
First-time author Randall has traveled the world as a businessman, gathering his pithy memoirs in the process. This is less a tale than an accumulation of cosmopolitan ruminations, stylistically held together by neat, aphoristic brevity. The point doesn’t seem to be historical documentation—he freely admits that since many of the remembrances are more than 30 years old, he “may not recount them all perfectly”—but more a meditation on one man’s meandering about the globe, sustained by wit and charm. The reflections are generally scattershot and short: In 142 pages, there are more than 150 chapters, some barely registering as a full-fledged paragraph. The themes touched upon are wide-ranging, even discontinuous: Chilean wine, groceries, actuarial communication skills, Brazil, Prince Andrew and unpleasant flights are only a tiny sampling of what the book offers. The overarching tone is one of whimsical informality, as with this delightful (though ungrammatical) digression referring to a bathroom in Sydney, Australia: “Upon leaving the customs hall, the condom machine in the men’s lavatory had graffiti written on it which stated, ‘In the event of complaint, post baby in slot.’ ” Sometimes, the disjointedness can be bit grating, leaving readers unmoored from a progressing story or guiding ideas. Mostly, however, the unpretentiousness of the observations and the spirit of levity with which they’re offered make up for the lack of structure and chronology. Sometimes, the author’s observations can be sociologically astute (he has a trenchant and mordantly funny analysis of Dutch thrift) but most of the book seems unburdened by intellectual ambition—a saving grace for the volume, in that it never pretends to offer more than it does, which is the casual cogitations of a globe-trotter.
Quick and light, with a lack of self-importance that makes it more charming than frivolous.