Margot Mifflin
January 15, 1993 AT 05:00 AM EST

In Natural Opium: Some Travelers’ Tales, novelist Diane Johnson (The Shadow Knows, Health and Happiness) may have invented a new genre: travel writing by and for people who would rather be at home. When she’s not sniffing at the customs of foreign lands, Johnson offers captivating, if superficial, accounts of Africa and India. Tellingly, her most substantial essay describes a visit to the Utah home of Mormon martyr and polygamist Rawsell Hetter. For all her professed wanderlust, Johnson is at her best on American turf, where she’s relaxed enough to write instead of whine about her experiences. B-

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