A fun, meandering read, but far short of an organized novel. I’ve read plenty of travel novels and they all do more than simply transcribe a travel journal. It is plainly obvious that this book is nothing more than handwritten pages mailed off to some publisher for editing, typing, and printing. There is no narrative whatsoever, and it is fairly poorly (or, to put a finer point on it, lazily) written. The book’s strength is in the way it captures the mystique of the time and place it explores. Patagonia is a desert wasteland dotted with small stone towns which conjure images of Alaska, Iceland, Greenland, Siberia, and Antarctica. It is vast and lawless like the American Wild West. It teams with history, having been visited by Magellan, Butch Cassidy, Charles Darwin, Shackleton, and a number of surprising late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century characters. The land seems to have a consciousness all of its own, and Bruce Chatwin does that justice.