Lance Mason’s “A Proficiency in Billiards”

Like legions of other itinerant seekers, Lance Mason has backpacked and motorcyled the world, crossed the oceans on freighter ships, seen how the rest of the planet lives. He’s got tales to tell. All traveler’s do; among the peripatetic horde, Mason is among the most gifted writers we’ve encountered. His collection of travel essays, “A Proficiency in Billiards: Reflections on a Well-Traveled Life,” recounts some of his best stories (of the thousands he’s surely witnessed) about lands near and far. In addition to having a poet’s eye for description and a novelist’s for story structure, Mason’s mind works like an editorialist, considering an idea — colonialism, say — from unconventional angles, building a satisfying argument that leads to a QED conclusion. Our only quibble with this utterly delightful book is that it’s too short.

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