For now I have to catch up with a few more reviews, lack of computer time does not make it easy. First this one:
Bill Bryson - Down under (02-044)
Bryson is the standard if it comes to travel writing. If you have any ambition to write travel stories, as I do myself, it might be a good idea to avoid Bryson completely. If, however, you do like to read a good book about what a country is really like, his books are a great source of information. Apart from that they are very entertaining and with a lot of black humour the best way to pass a rainy night in near the fire.
As for me, having travelled a bit lately, I read his books in search for recognition. Obviously there is plenty. Trying to understand Cricket, even though you are not from the Commonwealth. Driving through a desert and realising it is only the beginning of a huge area where nobody goes for fun. Rushing to get to Uluru. Sitting in a typical outback pub, surrounded by people who rarely see anything but their little part of the world. Standing on a beach in Sydney, knowing how many dangers are in the water ahead of you, still observing dozens of Aussies entering the murderous sea without any hesitation. All things I've done, all things he can describe in his book much better than I ever will.
Bryson in Australia is a must read for anybody who has ever visited Oz, who want to visit down under or even only contemplating what it would be like to travel where our antipodes live. It is also an hilarious account of a few journeys through a continent that is still largely unspoilt. Apart from that Bryson has so much background information, it almost makes it a worthy travel guide.