I’ve always enjoyed Bill Bryson. I loved A Walk in the Woods and The Mother Tongue and his Shakespeare book, etc. This? Not this. I couldn’t manage this.
Yes, it was lovely to learn that we’ve all been pronouncing “Everest” wrong (and that George Everest never went up it). It’s good to know that almost 40% of London is park and the city is almost half as populated as New York, and France and England are only 20.6 miles apart at their closest point, and such. Motopia is a very cool idea and I’m enjoying running it through Google Image. But…
>“It’s not the same thing at all. You can’t be this stupid.”
>“Well, pardon me for saying so, but you’re an idiot,” I said matter-of-factly.
This is Bryson quoting … himself. And both times he was talking to a young person in the service industry. If he’s being honest and not self-mocking or self-parodying or whatever, Bill Bryson is apparently a jackass.
“Do you want fries with that?” the young man serving me asked.
I hesitated for a moment, and in a pained but patient tone said: “No. That’s why I didn’t ask for fries, you see.”
Seriously. I don’t want to spend time with this person. When he calls Leslie Charteris “a recluse and a bigot” it feels very much like a pot and kettle pronouncement.
The humor is forced, and very much largely unfunny. I’m disappointed – and I quit.
The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.