Alexander Smith stated that a good essayist needed an ability to discern the infinite suggestiveness of common things. Arthur Benson seconded the idea, saying an essayist needed a far-ranging curiosity. For three decades Sam Pickering has written essays, his words rolling in a fine frenzy over ordinary life discovering the marvelous and the absurd. His curiosity ranges, but it also rumpuses and rollicks. He wanders the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, rural Connecticut, farmland in Nova Scotia, and islands in the sun. Strangers tell him their life storiestales that are almost as odd as the fictional characters he meets. He runs half-marathons and wins prizes, but finishes so late in the day that he misses award ceremonies. His good friend David tells him, Sam, if you werent so damn smart, you would have been a great success.