Hoagland, author of Heart's Desire: The Best of Edward Hoagland ( LJ 9/15/88) and The Final Fate of the Alligators ( LJ 2/1/92), offers a wonderful assortment of essays with a broad range of themes. The most common threads here are travel, nature, and literature. The first essay, ``West on the Zephyr,'' is about a train trip to California, and like a train trip, it slows things down and gives the reader a chance to study the landscape and its people. ``Learning To Eat Soup'' is a departure from the regular essay form; it gathers together short snapshots of thoughts, observations, and facts that surprise and at times delight. Hoagland has the unique power of drawing the reader into his world. In his foreword, he describes an essayist as someone who has a broad range of talents and opinions, ``a man for all seasons,'' who can write the things that we almost thought to say ourselves. He does that very well and obviously has fun doing it. Highly recommended for public libraries.-- Lisa J. Cochenet, Rhinelander Dist. Lib., Wis.