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A new book by the world's funniest--and perhaps most eccentric--travel writer is always cause for rejoicing. Unlike many of his peers, who focus on typical destinations or touristy experiences, Bryson seeks out the odd, the little known, the one-of-a-kind, and the just plain weird. In his latest offering, which chronicles his exploration of Australia, he introduces us to a town that went without electricity until the early 1990s, a former high-ranking politician who hawks his own autobiography to passersby, an assortment of coffee shops and restaurants (Bryson is particularly fond of meal breaks), a type of giant worm, and the world's most poisonous creature, the box jellyfish. Bryson's use of language is unparalleled (he's also written two excellent books about the English language), and it is sheer delight to sink into his prose, especially his hysterical, enlightening, and sometimes moving descriptions of people and places we've never even imagined. His books are, quite simply, among the best and most rewarding travel literature ever written--head, shoulders, and torso above most of the competition--and this new title is a guaranteed winner. --David Pitt
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Bryson (A Walk in the Woods) is one heck of a witty, intelligent, wry, opinionated, frequently salacious, and always entertaining writer whose books are a treat not to be denied. Here he tackles Australia, basing his views of this unique continent on a tour he took of the entire countryDsomething few people, including Australians, have ever done. It's all here: the convict history, the love/hate affair with England, the vastness, and Australia's most fascinating inhabitants (apart from koalas)Dits colorful, quirky people. Bryson has a gift for making common things seem exceptional; everything from cricket to politics to place names is described in a manner that both educates and entertains. Anyone planning to attend the Sydney Olympics, thinking of an Australian vacation, or simply looking for a darn good book shouldDmustDread the latest from an author who has covered everything from the origins of the English language to the marvels of rural America with skill and humor. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/00.]DJoseph L. Carlson, Lompoc P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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With the Olympics approaching, books on Australia abound. Still, Bryson's lively take is a welcome recess from packaged, staid guides. The author of A Walk in the Woods draws readers in campfire-style, relating wacky anecdotes and random facts gathered on multiple trips down under, all the while lightening the statistics with infusions of whimsical humor. Arranged loosely by region, the book bounces between Canberra and Melbourne, the Outback and the Gold Coast, showing Bryson alone and with partners in tow. His unrelenting insistence that Australia is the most dangerous place on earth ("If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback") spins off dozens of tales involving jellyfish, spiders and the world's 10 most poisonous snakes. Pitfalls aside, Bryson revels in the beauty of this country, home to ravishing beaches and countless unique species ("80% of all that lives in Australia, plant and animal, lives nowhere else"). He glorifies the country, alternating between awe, reverence and fear, and he expresses these sentiments with frankness and candor, via truly funny prose and a conversational pace that is at once unhurried and captivating. Peppered with seemingly irrelevant (albeit amusing) yarns, this work is a delight to read, whether or not a trip to the continent is planned. First serial to Outside magazine; BOMC selection. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved