Friday, April 07, 2006
Book 16: In A Sunburned Country
Excellent, excellent book. Hands down a star on the rating chart. I am now obessed with Australia. I want to go there, wear 'I Heart Australia' t-shirts, have a baby wombat as a pet and run away with mysterious Australian men. Note, I still have no idea what a wombat is, some kind of small fuzzy creature, I believe, and Australia t-shirts are more scarce and expensive on the internet than you would think. Super Anne and I are going to try and read some of the same books so that you, dear reader, have the pleasure of differing view, so here is our first.
This book is nothing short of delightful. After living in England for twenty years, Bill Bryson writes with the dry humor so typical of the British and as he explains the marvels of the only continent that's an island and a country he take thes reader on a hilarious roadtrip across the outback. Australia sounds ridiculous... and I cannot wait to go. (We've decided to start saving our money for a 2008 trip) Bryson guides us into the murderous outback, to the posh and modern cities of Melbourne and Sydney and into the steamy tropic of Queensland, where the people are "madder than cut snakes." I have no earthly idea what that means, but it sounds fabulous and I simply must start incorporating that phrase into my vocabulary. We go everywhere in Australia with him and he doesn't disappoint in any place. I have a burning desire to rent movies about Australia, stare at an atlas and learn everything I can about this crazy place. Bryson is such an enjoyable and knowledgable author that I wouldn't hesistate to recommend him. I am unsure if I want to read his other books, simply because I'm not sure I'm ready to begin another ridiculous infatuation with any other place. I just want to love Australia.
I'm just not sure how to describe this book and properly review it. You just have to read it, it's that good. As my co-reviewer did, I think I'll simply leave you with some of my favorite parts. In describing a friend, in whom I hope we find the typical Australian male, he writes: "Howe's idea of a whole-body workout was to drink a beer standing up." I particulary enjoyed the chapter on Ned Kelly, a ruffian immortalized by the Australian people for no reason whatsoever, not surprising based on Bryson's observations. I do think I'll watch the Heath Ledger movie about him tonight. But here's one final bit which I hope you enjoy.
"One of the more cherishable peculiarities of Australians is that they like to build big things in the shape of other things. Give them a bale of chicken wire, some fiberglass, and a couple of pots of paint and they will make you, say an enormous pineapple or strawberry or, as here, a lobster...Some 60 of these objects are scattered across the Australian landscape, like leftover props from a 1950s horror movie. You can, if you have sufficient gas money and nothing approaching a real life, visit a Big Prawn, a Big Koala, a Big Oyster (with searchlights for eyes, apparently) a Big Lawn Mower, a Big Marlin, a Big Orange, and a Big Merino Ram, among others." Madder than cut snakes, I tell you.
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