Bill Bryson Retires

Well, my life sucks a little more now.

No really, I want him to be happy, and I am glad that he’s happy.

But my list of things to look forward to just got shorter. No more Bill Bryson books.

I read “A Walk in The Woods” and enjoyed it. Maybe he’ll have time to walk the entire Appalachian Trail now. :grin:

I’ll believe it when I don’t see it.

It kind of sounds to me like it isn’t the writing per se that he wants to give up, but the research.

Whenever I need a laugh out loud book, I read his Thunderbolt Kid “autobiography.”

Is he allowed to retire? Isn’t there a law or something?

Great idea. I think I’ll re-read Thunderbolt Kid after I finish reading The Kidnap Years. BTW, I haven’t finished reading The Kidnap Years, but I highly recommend it so far.

I’ve read a number of his books and quite enjoyed them. The most memorable may have been One Summer: America, 1927.

If you like well written, well researched non-fiction in an entertaining story-telling style I highly recommend Erik Larson. Actually Bryson has sometimes been criticized for factual errors in his research, so arguably Larson is a few notches above him in several respects. I’ve mentioned Larson before but I don’t mind giving him another plug – he’s brought me a great deal of reading pleasure.

Seconded. I’ve read both Bryson and Larson and I think Larson is the better story teller of the two.

No, Larson doesn’t do it for me. Admittedly, the only book I’ve read of his is The Devil in the White City, and I found it interesting, but in style, ultimately forgettable. And I’m a Chicago history nut, so I should’ve liked it more. I’d be willing to try another of his works though.

Give Thunderstruck a go. It builds.

I was disappointed in “Devil in the White City.”

If you want a non-fiction author who is never boring, try Jeff Guinn. That guy could make the phone book interesting.

I’ll have to give Guinn a shot. I’ve read both Bryson and Larson, and far prefer Bryson’s humorous approach to life and history. But I love a well-written history book.

I was inspired to visit Australia after reading In A Sunburned Country including a couple of specific spots–the Tree Top Walk (amazing–had the place almost to myself) and the Hamelin Pool stromatolites at Shark Bay (extremely desolate area but mind-boggling to see one the oldest life forms on earth).

I was disappointed by A Walk In The Woods, mostly because of my (unrealistic, I suppose) expectation that he and Katz were going to do the whole trail. I actually liked the movie better…I wouldn’t consider it a great movie but I enjoyed the chemistry between Redford and Nolte.

If you want to check out a Guinn biography, start with the one on Charles Manson, or Jim Jones. (Neither are light reading, as one could probably guess already)

I was disappointed by A Walk In The Woods

This book really turned me off on Bryson. A Short history of Nearly Everything was an entertaining read, but if he put a lot of time into his research he was way too wrong too often. Another book could be written about the errors.

But A Walk in the Woods was clearly faked and written in the comfort of his home. He didn’t walk the Appalachian Trail, or not very much of it. He must have visited parks and talked to people. His hiking partner seems to have been entirely made up, as was the annoying girl with the throat clearing issue, completely made up.

Then there was the couple who picked them up and gave them a ride to town, in a Pontiac Trans Am, and they sat in the back, with all their gear, and some other stuff that the driving couple were moving with. I have had 3 Trans Ams and to seat anyone over 12 in the back seat would require the removal of their legs below the knee. There is no way that hiking gear is going in that car, with 4 people.

But that was just a literary device to poke fun at hillbillies. Har, har, rednecks moving in a Trans Am!. Most people would have no idea that was impossible.

This was when I new that I was reading an entirely fictional account. He probably visited a few parks along the trial and made the rest of it up. Last book of his I will read. If you are writing fiction, call it that, fiction.

Yes, fan-fucking-tastic.

Yes, but without the humor.

Bryson is often called a travel writer, or a journalist,but it simply is not true.
He’s a gossip-column writer.
But he’s a gossip columnist who writes about non-gossipy stuff, like travel and history,–issues which could be treated seriously.
But not by Bryson!.
And that’s why he’s so much fun to read.
You never know what’s going to happen on the next page…but you know you’ll enjoy it.

Perhaps it wasn’t a Trans Am, but maybe another small car, and Bill embellished a bit.

If a traveling friend tells you that he stayed at a hotel, and they gave him a broom closet to sleep in, do you call him a liar because no hotel would do that?

And I’ve heard the whole Katz doesn’t exist story. I don’t see any reason to assume Katz is Bill’s imaginary friend.