December 01, 1980 12:00 PM

by Richard Brautigan

His best work since 1967’s Trout Fishing in America, this assortment of essays and short stories is like a photo album of Brautigan’s annual journeys between his favorite city, Tokyo, and his home, Montana’s Paradise Valley (PEOPLE, Nov. 3). His perceptions as a traveler flash-freeze into snapshots: a Japanese family running while carrying ice-cream cones, a sad woman on a Tokyo train, a bed salesman with no customers, six crows eating a truck tire in the dead of winter. The small adventures of country living are interwoven with the bizarre encounters of the ultra-urban environment. While fact and fantasy sometimes blur, the pages are spiced with shrewd insights, whimsy and musings. The author coyly disowns the autobiographical details, insisting in his preface that it is really the story of the “train” of the title. That conceit aside, the funny, fast-paced reading is worth the fare. (Delacorte, $10.95)

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