In Neither Here nor There Bill Bryson brings his unique brand of humour to bear on Europe as he shoulders his backpack, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and journeys from Hammerfest, the northernmost town on the continent, to Istanbul on the cusp of Asia. Whether braving the homicidal motorists of Paris, being robbed by gypsies in Florence, attempting not to order tripe and eyeballs in a German restaurant, window-shopping in the sex shops of the Reeperbahn or disputing his hotel bill in Copenhagen, Bryson takes in the sights, dissects the culture and illuminates each place and person with his hilariously caustic observations.
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Authentic Bryson, but that might be the problem
I would recommend Neither Here Nor There with reservations, because the actual traveling-around-Europe portion of the book is exactly what I wanted from Bryson. Unfortunately, he indulges too much in digressions where he displays quite unlovable character traits, some of which include:
-despising all dogs and most animals in general
-shameless objectification of women
-defending his complete lack of remorse over beating up the fat kid in his middle school.
In a travel book, I seek to identify with the author so that I may see the places he goes through his eyes. Bryson's digressions make this very difficult, and it is hard to understand why his editor permitted them to remain in the work, since they are so extraneous to the purpose of the work.
I think there is a book that covers his ORIGINAL trip through Europe with Katz, and as a fan of A Walk In The Woods, I'm curious about that one.
Bryson freely admits being completely ignorant of all non-English languages, except for mostly-forgotten lesson in school. Despite this, Roberts continually indulges in heavy accents and pronunciations that feel false in the context that Bryson has created.
Nope. I don't want to tempt Bryson into deeper navel-gazing, since this book took him to some pretty dark places already.
- M. Craft
9 hours in a prison camp