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Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country (Bryson) Mass Market Paperback – 6 Aug 2001
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"Bryson makes you laugh out loud...Down Under is filled with quirky stories'," (Sunday Express)
"The thing that Bryson most loves about Australia - its "effortlessly dry, direct way of viewing the world" - is, in fact, his own. They're a perfect fit" (The New York Times Book Review)
"Bryson is the perfect travelling companion... when it comes to travel's peculiars the man still has no peers" (The Times)
"Bill Bryson is a very talented writer and an enormously funny and perceptive one. He is an artist who needs a big canvas. Australia has provided this. He's painted a masterpiece in travel literature" (Globe & Mail Toronto)
Bill Bryson's travels in a sunburned country: Australia will never look the same again.See all Product description
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Some of the anecdotal details were extremely interesting and the exchanges between the author and his friend Katz were often hilarious. Perhaps it helped that I saw the Robert Redford/Nick Nolte film of the story quite recently so I could put their voices and faces to these funny, and often painful, scenes. I had not had much interest in finding this book until recently but I am glad that I did. Bryson is always good value and the Kindle price was very reasonable. I immediately downloaded his Australian adventures after finishing this one, and am enjoying it already.
I suppose the main question that any of us NON-long distance hikers would have is why on earth would anyone risk their life to follow such a project as the AT. It doesn't matter whether or not the protagonists complete the trail. The very attempt has to be applauded, even though Katz was clearly much less suited to the endeavour than his friend. In conclusion I will just say that it is great to read about others' monumental efforts. It saves me having to try it for myself!
His blend of cultural and historical information coupled with subtle humour and gentle ribbing is so infectious. He makes quite dry facts interesting. For example the history of Australia and random facts about the background of it's cities are so well delivered, and keep you wanting more.
His self deprecation is so endearing as he tells us about his lack of social success when eating alone in various hotels and restaurants and his interactions with the natives. I love his very honest descriptions of those he comes across minus the usual political correctness. With Mr Bryson we are told about the nation's quirks as well as hearing it praised.
For example he recounts a story sent to him by an Australian friend who has recently passed on about a family she knew of and the interpretation of such events by the families little girl. So funny.
Another example would be when he is describing the different unusual names of towns down under, even without comment he makes it funny in his relay of such information.
This book informs as much as it entertains and it will take you on an interesting and very funny journey through the country of Australia because Mr Bryson is a very fun and well informed travelling companion indeed.
I was left wondering whether the author actually likes Brits, but think he must do as he is still here.
His observations on modern architecture and the 1960 s and 1970s Brutalist design crimes are more than justified and I agree with them whole heartedly. It makes you think of what we lost when old beautiful places were removed. Who allowed this to happen?
Observations on the strange quirks of Brits are hilarious. Reminds one of how different their culture is from ours. Mr Bryson does not seem to think very highly of the British transport system ( and it has probably not improved greatly since then) but he cannot really compare the resources of our small island with the USA.
His enthusiasm for tourist attractions is infectious but I was irritated by his frequent mention of the admission charges and that he resented paying. If he admires the places so much, why resent it?
He is quite knowledgable about geography and how towns / settlements develop and seems to be able to analyse places quite intricately. Town planners should read this book.
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