Thursday, April 1, 2010
"Trust me, this is an interesting place"
Title: In a Sunburned Country
By: Bill Bryson
Australia has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. This fact has stuck with me ever since I read In a Sunburned Country several years ago. "Of the world’s ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures – the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish – are the most lethal of their type in the world…. It’s a tough place."
Bill Bryson's journey around Australia begins with a trip to the library to research the country in back issues of the New York Times only to find that Australia is rarely featured in the American press. He obviously found more about the country elsewhere because he has loads of facts and stories to share as he travels all over the continent.
Bryson's easy, conversational tone and way of describing his actions may have you laughing out loud. He peppers his narrative with facts and statistics about the area he's in or going to and then illustrates them with a tale or story that makes you wonder why we've never heard about this before.
This is not a tourist guide that you would use when visiting a new place. It's a travelogue. You can sit comfortably at home and read about someone else's adventures and misadventures in another country and when you are at the end of the book you can feel like you know a lot more about the country than you did when you started.
Australia is a vast country, teeming with wildlife and cheerful people. Among other things, Bryson observes, "This is a country that is at once staggeringly empty and yet packed with stuff. Interesting stuff, ancient stuff, stuff not readily explained. Stuff yet to be found. Trust me, this is an interesting place."
Trust me, this is an interesting book.