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February 23, 1992|Charles Solomon

THE BEST OF GRANTA TRAVEL by the editors of Granta (Penguin: $9.95). As the contributors to this impressive anthology include Bruce Chatwin, Paul Theroux, Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Hilton, it's hardly surprising that the mixture of impressions and reportage is a far cry from wish-you-were-here postcards. Redmond O'Hanlon treks through the jungles of Borneo and discovers that the greatest threats he faces are not the savage headhunters and ravening tigers of "B" movies, but insects, fungi, leeches and germs--and the measures needed to escape them. Hilton picks through the rubble of the Stroessner regime in Paraguay, interviewing witnesses about human-rights violations and examining the dictator's numerous folies de grandeur. After weeks of wrangling, she manages to interview the aged despot in exile in Brazil and discovers that he cannot or will not recall anything but a modestly benign administration. Although the writing is often exceptional, the anthology is badly organized: The pieces are presented with no introductions, no dates and no indication if they're self-contained essays or excerpts from longer works.

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