Bill Bryson’s first travel book, The Lost Continent, was unanimously acclaimed as one of the funniest books in years. In Neither Here nor There he brings his unique brand of humour to bear on Europe as he shoulders his backpack, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and journeys from Hammerfest, the northernmost town on the continent, to Istanbul on the cusp of Asia. Fluent in, oh, at least one language, he retraces his travels as a student twenty years before.
Whether braving the homicidal motorists of Paris, being robbed by gypsies in Florence, attempting not to order tripe and eyeballs in a German restaurant or window-shopping in the sex shops of the Reeperbahn, Bryson takes in the sights, dissects the culture and illuminates each place and person with his hilariously caustic observations. He even goes to Liechtenstein.
After 20 years as a London-based reporter, American journalist Bryson ( The Mother Tongue ) set out to retrace a youthful European backpacking trip, from arctic Norway's northern lights to romantic Capri and the ``collective delirium'' of Istanbul. Descriptions of historic and artistic sights in the Continent's capitals are cursory; Bryson prefers lesser-known locales, whose peculiar flavor he skillfully conveys in anecdotes that don't scant the seamy side and often portray eccentric characters encountered during untoward adventures of the road. He enlivens the narrative with keen, sometimes acerbic observations of national quirks like the timed light switches in French hallways, but tends to strive too hard for comic effects, some in dubious taste. He also joins other travelers in deploring the growing hordes of peddlers who overrun major tourist meccas.
"Neither here nor there" this is not.
Brilliant. Paced. Considered. Erudite. Humble, in Bryson's typical egomaniacal way, but so funny and lucid and, ... you know those moments when you read an author and you think : "damn, I had that thought ... Why didn't I write it down ??? " Well, here they all are, the reasons that we are not The Thunderbolt Kid, the only Yank besides Bob Hope or Dan Tyminski to be granted (correct me if I'm wrong, Countrymen) to be granted English nationality.
If you doubt, read his description of Morecambe Bay in Notes on a Small Island. Or anything else.
Dad, read this book and laugh, and have a Very Happy Christmas and a Lively 2012.
And Bill ... A Merry Christmas and a Very Good N.Y. to you too, and my sincerest thanks for making me laugh out loud in dentists' waiting rooms, restaurants , libraries, backstage areas ... Hell, everywhere important to me..Thank You. And , of course - along with my humblest apologies - a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us all - You are Most welcome Here.