by Sukey HowardJuly, 1999
At home and abroad Traveling with Bill Bryson, as anyone who took A Walk in the Woods with him knows, is a unique experience. His droll brand of humor and his deft descriptions of the places and people he visits are distinctly his own. As he relates in I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away, Bryson first went to Europe as a college student, then he went back and didn't come home for over 20 years. In a fit of misplaced nostalgia, he retraced some of his youthful steps. The result is a right-on, laugh-out-loud tour of Northern Europe (a disaster except for the Danish damsels who doff their tops in the City parks at lunch time) and a swing through Italy and some of the less-visited Eastern European countries now in harm's way. Bryson always appreciates where he is, the folks he runs into, the sights he sees, and he can reduce a quirk of national character to a wonderfully witty phrase. If you've been to these places, you'll see them anew; if you're traveling in an armchair, you'll have the delight without the flight.
Sukey Howard reports on spoken word audio each month.