Chance Encounters: Travel Tales from Around the World is a delightful collection of twenty-three stories. Editor Janna Graber has chosen a variety of authors’ works, along with two of her own, which represent not only their personal, diverse cultural backgrounds but also the diversity of settings where each has traveled – from Chile to France to Japan to Kenya to the United Arab Emirates to the USA.
Story after story focuses on the author’s encounters with locals while traveling. Each experience touched and changed the author in some small or large way, all of them significant. Some stories in Chance Encounters describe a single encounter in an equally singular setting. Some cover a longer travel encounter, which repeats itself either with the same person or with person after person over the duration of the trip. Some are reflections on past encounters that are then compared to current ones, with the same person or people, or in the same place. All are written to evoke a sympathetic reaction, from laughter, to nods, to head shakes, to tears. Each distinct place is described with poignant clarity, simple yet thorough enough to tease and draw the reader into the new environment. Each character is succinctly and clearly delivered into the reader’s presence as each meeting progresses. The culture medley entices the reader to enter into each setting, creating form and focus.
The primary drawback of the book is that the tales come to an end. Chance Encounters is a good read for every real, as well as armchair, traveler.
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