This collection of 50 pieces written by Theroux (The Great Railway Bazaar, The Mosquito Coast, et al.) serves as a solid introduction to his work and far-flung travels. Though they span 20 years and a wide range of subjects, the pieces are unified by Theroux's consistent point of view and wry detachment. Some of the strongest contributions were written during the '60s in East Africa where he was a teacher: they include tales of being thrown out of Malawi, witnessing revolt in the streets of Uganda. Among the other highlights: Theroux's musing on the intangible line separating Europe and Asia; a discussion of the nature of travel (""travel has less to do with distance than with insight; it is, very often, a way of seeing""); profiles of, among others, Kipling, Nixon, V.S. Pritchett, John McEnroe; a journey into the dangerous jungles of the New York City subway; descriptions of Theroux's large, extended family and their summers on Cape Cod; his friendship with V.S. Naipaul (""he woke me and made me think""); his 20-year high-school reunion; glimpses of countries he's visited (Malaysia, Afghanistan, Burma, Ireland, Corsica); and unforgettable train rides that reinforce his belief that ""all great trains arrive too soon."" These pieces prove anew Theroux's unflagging, infectious enthusiams for exploring a ""large and strange world"" where ""one can still make discoveries in a glorious solitary way.