A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bill Bryson is awesome, but his friend Stephen Katz is more awesome.
Published in 1998, Walk in The Woods, saw Bryson and his friend Stephen Katz team up once again(they travelled together in Europe, which is described in Neither Here Nor There) to hike the Appalachian Trail. The beginning of the book shows Bryson talking about the difficulties of the hike, as he tries to buy his hiking gear without embarrassing his son(who works in the store). Later as none of his friends responds to his call for becoming his hiking partner, he finds salvation in the form of his childhood friend Stephen Katz from his hometown of Des Moines. Thus they begin their journey from the state of Georgia, as Bryson realises that neither hiking is easy, nor Katz is fit for hiking.
The book is a trademark Bryson, where he mixes non-fiction with a great dose of humour. Though compared to his other books or travelogues the humour quotient of this book was much less. But, nonetheless, where he got the chance, he managed to bring out belly aching laughter from the reader through his descriptions and words. But, what made this book stand apart, or rather makes every Bill Bryson book stand apart is the simplification of the non-fiction part to an extent where not only does the facts and the figures lose any of their importance, but also never becomes boring to read. In a way they merge into the main stream of the travelogue without disturbing its flow.
But, clearly Bill Bryson is not the hero of the adventure, Stephen Katz is. Normally when Bryson travels, he becomes the undisputed King of Laughter. But, with passing pages I gradually realized, that with his dialogues, his guffaws and his penchant for throwing away things, Stephen Katz became the undisputed hero of the books. So much so, that the part where Bryson hikes the smaller parts of the trail without Katz, the book becomes much less interesting. Without Katz the trail loses its glamour!!!
P.S. Cant wait to see the movie with Robert Redford as Bill Bryson, and Nick Nolte as Stephen Katz.
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