by Bill Bryson
Avon Books (1992)
Years and years ago when I managed my first steps at the early age of ten months (thank you very kindly) I had no idea where they would take me. Here’s how it’s played out over seven decades—from toddle, to walk, to jog, to run, back to jog, to walk, to two hip replacements that whipsawed me back to a limp-like toddle.
That’s the physical history of my perambulation and I miss the walking years more than yes, even Bill Bryson, knows. I’m not motoring around in the four wheeled Rascal of cable infomercial fame yet but I’m kicking the tires and so it’s my habit today to perch on my sun deck reading Bryson’s walkabout/travel books with an addiction that would make any cocktail psychologist worth their fourth drink slur the word vicarious.
For those who loved Bryson’s A WALK IN THE WOODS, well think of me as his stationary beer sipping, page turning Katz. The man takes me on walks that are so incredibly satisfying, entertaining, educational, and downright laugh-out-loud funny that frankly these jaunts have eased the pain of this once-upon-a-time perambulator.
In that walk in the woods we climbed along the Appalachian Trail. The two of us have ambled across Britain (Notes From A Small Island and The Road To Little Dribbling), sauntered around Europe (Neither Here Nor There), hiked the outback of Australia (In A Sunburned Country) and strode manfully through Africa (Bill Bryson’s African Diary).
The man’s a marvel—curious, witty, insightful, educational and observant with a walking stick in hand that never misses an opportunity to poke deserving targets that we can relate to— regardless in what far off land he hits these bulls’ eyes. Bryson misses nothing—people, politics, weather, history, culture, architecture, art, museums, maps, language, transit, tourists, restaurants, food, waiters, weather (it rains a lot in Europe), pickpockets, prostitutes, pubs, pigeons, and hotels. Oh, all the while painting poetic word pictures of the landscape he’s crossing that make me want to climb off that deck of mine and well, take a hike!