An American traveler shares his notes of times abroad.
In his debut memoir, Bermann treats his readers to 10 years of sallies to spots far from his Houston hometown, places such as Colombia, Kenya, and the Philippines. Bermann tells of carrying bottles of alcohol effortlessly through airport security, flirting with attractive women the world over, and endeavoring to make the most of his time away from home. His accounts of many conversations with strangers along the way show him to be a friendly, easygoing sort, as happy to share jokes on the deck of a boat as he is to snorkel with the sharks beneath it. The author is also an avid sports fan, and his account is most absorbing when he describes the many baseball games that he’s traveled to see (“The Boston Red Sox did most of the good things,” he writes of an All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, “but they were booed anyway”). Bermann is a talented sportsman, and he reprints a pageslong passage from his friend Finn Aagaard’s 1992 book Aagaard’s Africa, which describes how Bermann felled a Cape buffalo with a single shot. Bermann’s own detailed prose convincing makes his journeys seem desirable. However, the book often reads like a series of disconnected jottings. Because the text has no proper introduction, readers are left to piece together for themselves who different people are, what prompted several trips, and, in some cases, even what took place. For example, one anecdote about Belize “cave tubing”—traveling through caves in large, inflatable inner tubes—reads, nearly in full, “We had a guide that took us through the caves. After that, we headed back.” What did the caves look like? A few paragraphs later, the author tells of being joined by some young men on a boat: “They carried on about a lot of things that we all got a good laugh over.” What was so funny? Overall, the book fails to take into account such details, which mars a potentially worthy account.
A series of travel notes that fails to add up to more than the sum of its parts.