A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

View from this book:

I listened to the book on tape while driving through Yellowstone, which was not the best place to hear Bill Bryson whining about the Park Service.  (Full disclosure: As a Park Service employee and a child of Park Service employees and an ardent fan
of the Park Service, I may be a little biased.)

The book:

Bill Bryson is always humorous, and so is his account of hiking the Appalachian Trail.  He blathers humorously about the problems to be encountered along the trail, but then he continues to blather  not-so-humorously about his bear-phobia (“take my word: run”), and about how he’s never camped before in his life, and how he’s going to hike 2000 miles with an overweight idiot (to whom he also, annoyingly, gives invented dialogue: I’m sure his exaggeratedly dim-witted companion never actually used the word “capacious”).

Bryson also whines incessantly about how the Federal government is mis-managing our public lands (to some extent, he’s right).  However, I would like to give you a message, dear Bill: You have the audience and the drollness to whine your affronted ass off and pull it off in a bestseller, but if you really wanted to make a difference, taking pot-shots at the Forest Service and Park Service isn’t going to do much.

After all of my own affronted blathering, though, I do have to admit that it is, in general, a diverting story.  (And, dear Bill, I still love many of your other books.  A Short History of Nearly Everything?  Genius.)  For A Walk in the Woods, however: 5 out of 10.


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