I’ve read several books by Bill Bryson and always enjoyed his humor. In particular, A Short History of Nearly Everything and A Walk in the Woods are among my favorite non-fiction books. I also love travel memoirs, so this account of Bryson’s attempt to retrace his European travels sounded like a book I’d love. Only I didn’t love it.
I gave it some thought and I came up with two reasons why I didn’t enjoy this book. First – he’s traveling across Europe and can’t seem to find anything enjoyable, save for the food in Italy. I mean Bryson complains about everything, and he’s snarky and makes fun of every country he travels to. That really turned me off. Usually, travel memoirs are fun and exciting. If something goes wrong the author uses self-deprecating humor more often than not, because most of the time it’s because the traveler is the one at fault. Sometimes Bryson makes fun of himself, but most of the time he made fun of everything and everyone else. Second – he’s traveling alone. In my personal experience, all good traveling involves others. Even if it’s people you’ve met along the way. It’s human reaction to experience and each other which make life interesting, and that goes double for travel memoirs, in my opinion. Maybe my disappointment was because it’s because this was one of his earlier works, before his writing style became something I could truly appreciate, but I’m glad that Bryson’s writing has matured and developed into something more entertaining and enlightening. My advice – don’t bypass this author if you don’t care for this book.
3 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1993
Amazon Book Preview of Neither Here Nor There