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Down Under A CLASSIC FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ONE SUMMER Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door memorable travel literature threatens to break out His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place Australia the country that doubles as a continent and a place with the friendliest inhabitants the hottest driest weather and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet The result is a deliciously funny fact filled and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor wonder and unflagging curiousityDespite the fact that Australia harbors things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else including sharks crocodiles snakes even riptides and deserts Bill Bryson adores the place and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful extroverted and unfailingly obliging and these beaming products of land with clean safe cities cold beer and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book Australia is an immense and fortunate land and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide Bill Bryson is on a short list of go to writers when I need a thoughtful but not too taxing book His travel works seem to follow the Bryson formula1 Bryson travels around a country and gets drunk in hotel bars2 Bryson gets pissed off at rude and stupid people but is usually forgiving and self depreciating3 Bryson assiduously researches the locales beforehand and integrates history into his itineraries and narratives4 Bryson writes with impeccable skill5 Bryson balances mundane details with broader musings about wherever he's visitingBryson makes travel writing look easy but I don't undervalue his talent He's funny often than not like when he describes the joys of tacky roadside attractions and his decision to trespass through a suburban backyard when he thinks a dog is chasing him through a park He keeps the text moving and harmonizes the personal and cultural with respect but without sanctimony Bryson maintains a willingness to criticize and even mock a culture when well the culture deserves criticism or mockery Bryson doesn't look or sound like one might expect from a travel writer; he's a fat middle aged guy who grew up in Iowa not some tanned and overtly fit mountain climber with flowing locks and a beard styled to look un styled He can dispense with all pretense of coolness and write about his travels from a laid back perspective 6 In a Sunburned Country outlines four central messages about Australia1 The country is so huge and varied that comprehending all the disparate elements as representative of one cohesive nation is very difficult2 The rest of the world kind of forgets about Australia most of the time except for New Year's Eve or whenever there's reason to show fireworks over the Sydney Opera House3 You can get killed in many interesting ways there4 While many white Australians are preternaturally friendly the country still shits on the Aborigines Bryson faces a curious paradox when addressing Australia When describing the country's expanse and diversity he runs the risk of repeating himself He seems to get a little frustrated with the idea that for example while he doesn't have the space or time to describe all the nuances of the huge barren bush country that comprises much of non coastal Australia he's essentially describing you know the bush country over and over again You can say “we are way out in the middle of nowhere” but communicating exactly what that means is difficult than one can expect from even the best travel writer Bryson does his best by adding key details eg describing how much he hates the ocean and fears jellyfish and his best is damn good He also avoids the cliches never once mentioning vegemite or Men at Work I liked In a Sunburned Country and I don't want to downplay Bryson's hard work and excellent narratives His humility is admirable and I think he's underrated possibly because he's so damn uncool And I'd rather drive around Australia with someone uncool but courteous and appreciative of decent hotel rooms than a guy who wants to mine the trip for hipster stories he can tell at coffee shops back home Bryson delivers with In a Sunburned Country The next time my brain is slightly fried I'll work through the next book in his catalog and be happy I imagine I did Lovely little adventure a la Bill Bryson No one knows incidentally why Australia's spiders are so extravagantly toxic; capturing small insects and injecting them with enough poison to drop a horse would appear to be the most literal case of overkill Still it does mean that everyone gives them lots of space What an absolutely stunning endorsement As with his other traveling books Bill Bryson hip hops his way across a country visiting monuments and interviewing natives We meet uirky characters and Australian wildlife galore from the poisonous snakes to the brutal kookaburra Incidentally did you know that the kookaburra likes to bash its prey until their bones have been pulverized? Apparently its easier to digest that waylovelyHe also has uite a lot to say about Australians They spend half of any conversation insisting that the country's dangers are vastly overrated and that there's nothing to worry about and the other half telling you how six months ago their Uncle Bob was driving to Mudgee when a tiger snake slid out from under the dashboard and bit him on the groin but that it's okay now because he's off the life support machine and they've discovered he can communicate with eye blinks To be fair Bill Bryson does have plenty of good things to say about Australia As he goes from town to town he describes delicious sounding dishes and has a way with describing the atmosphere such that you feel like you are really there About halfway through the book I did start to get a bit bored this book became a bit samey samey with every town he visited That being said I did enjoy reading this somewhat unusual trek through AustraliaAudiobook CommentsNothing too special was well read if a bit bland in toneinflectionYouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Snapchat mirandareads Happy Reading I love Bill Bryson Yep it's a full blown one sided bromance Bryson could write a book about the history of the individual rooms within the typical house and I would love it he did and I did So when I discovered he'd written about his experiences while traveling Australia I knew I'd found my next good read In a Sunburned Country takes in the Land Down Under from today traveling all the way back to its earliest historical findings You expect and get a look at modern Australia its UK convict days Sydney and other cities the bush the outback and the plight trials and importance of the aborigines All of the above also comes with a healthy dose of Bryson humor It's self deprecating it's consciously delusional for comedy's sake it's honest and it gives me the chuckles I appreciate that he puts himself in awkward situations and really enjoy his description of scenes in which he is a participating victim Australia has countless ways to kill a person what with all its deadly animals so there's plenty of opportunity for hair raising hilarity especially considering Bryson's the sort of guy who could get himself savaged by a hedgehog Fun is fun and all but in the end this book is about the knowledge so if you have an interest in learning about Australia I couldn't recommend another book highly The author is a full on philomath and he loves this country so the reader is treated to a veritable love fest spewed all over the pages of In a Sunburned Country Bill Bryson never seems to use the same approach to each of his books Is this book going to be snarky Bill? Is this going to be funny Bill? Is this going to be funny yet informative Bill? Is this going to be snarky yet informative Bill? I could go on but my hands would start to cramp up with the unlimited combinationsThis one is reverential informative and mostly self effacing humor Bill Bill loves Australians but he hates the fact that the country is over run with hordes of killer species and there’s a big hot assed desert in the middle of the continentAustralians are lovely people The one’s I’ve known were incredibly friendly and generous I worked with a couple who were touring the United States and working at odd jobs along the way When they were leaving they gave me their contact information and invited me to visit at any time If they are reading this my family will be down under in a week or so and plan to stay for about a month We don’t eat much beyond shrimp and steak and don’t wish to try vegemite so thanks and keep that stuff to yourself So good onya mates and crikey and stuffAlthough it’s a topic that needs examining Bryson’s writing on the treatment of Aborigines seems out of place and shrill compared with the Australian lovefest and repeated warnings about deadly jelly fish killer spiders and gun toting snakesThis was a buddy read with la doyenne of non fiction buddy reads Le Trish

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