43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
A Buffoon with a Head as Round as the Planet Itself,
This review is from: An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington (Hardcover)
My brother gave me this book for my birthday yesterday, as I've been a fan of Ricky, Steve & Karl since their XFM days. I've actually finished the book already; it was that funny, I couldn't put it down!
It was a good, interesting, &, in its own unique Karl-type way, insightful read. To those readers familiar with the trio, & who haven't watched the TV series, it quickly becomes clear that Karl's small production unit are colluding with Ricky & Steve to set Karl up in situations which they know will irritate him - e.g. getting him to film with a gay man on a nudist beach in Brazil.
In each country, Karl generally stays or travels with a local resident, most of whom are incredibly poor. Despite their hardship & daily circumstances (one delightful young man in India, Ashek, lives in what is essentially a garage), these people are extremely generous with their time & hospitality. In some cases, however, these parts of the book left me rather saddened for some of those who opened their homes to Karl - he was so rude & offensive to them. In one case in particular, Karl mentions how he pushed some food into the face of an elderly Chinese lady whilst shouting at her (in her own home, after she & her family had welcomed him in & cooked for him), just because she was trying to encourage him to try a bit of a different dish and this irritated him.
Plus, Karl was never actually that impressed by the Wonders - I hoped he might have ultimately learned to appreciate something, as there was a quote from his last wonder (Machu Picchu) at the beginning of that chapter in which he said "Magnificent. I'm speechless." So I thought that he might have actually gained some kind of new understanding from his experiences - but on reading the chapter, you find that he was just spouting it to Steve Merchant so that he could get out of the trip a day or two early. Somehow, it left me with a vague feeling of disappointment that a man who has experienced some of the world's most amazing treasures & cultures willingly persists in ignorance & disdain for much of what he encounters.
That said, it is definitely a book worth reading, with several laugh-out-loud moments, & offers a uniquely in-depth look at some of our world's most incredible people & places (as well as Karl's misadventures with the various toilet facilities of each country...).
Karl really is just a simian buffoon with "a head like a f**king orange", but he certainly makes for a fascinating travelling companion.