(Once again, image from Goodreads. I must remember to take more photos!)
I wasn’t a big fan of Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island. I found the humour depreciating and his treatment of others distainful. Other encouraged me not to write him off entirely and suggested something closer to home, namely Down Under, a subject I know a lot about as I’m Australian.
Firstly, I found Bryson’s treatment of fellow Aussies a lot better- there are only a few he gets snarky with. Maybe this is because of our dry humour- and the fact he would get cut down to size pretty quickly.
I found it highly amusing that he had no concept of the distances involved between cities- Sydney is not two hours away from Brisbane for instance- surely he would have discovered this in his research? (Plus I’d like to know what speed he was doing to suggest Perth to Shark Bay is an eight hour drive- it’s nearly 900 km and our maximum speed limit is 110 km/hr!) Still, kudos for going to places that other tourists would not- such as the Shark Bay stromatolites, Broken Hill, Daly Waters and Canberra. His history of Australia is also very good, especially the explorers, which brought me back to primary school social studies.
If you’re not from Australia, you might find Bryson’s obsession with dangerous and venomous snakes/spiders/whatever a little worrying. Honestly, you can walk down the street here without confronting a deadly snake or spider, plus we do have anti-venoms!
I thought that this was a pretty good travelogue of Australia, even though Bryson did leave some areas out, namely the north west of Western Australia. Maybe he’d like to return? I’d certainly read it.
8 out of 10.