I am a big fan of ’s books and I recently started listening to him on audio – he reads his own books and his dry, sardonic humor delivered in his mid-Atlantic accent is perfect and actually adds to my experience of his stories. I posted a review earlier this year of the audiobook, Notes from a Small Island and I had a lot of comments from fellow Bryson followers. Many commenters, including recommended In a Sunburned Country so I promptly downloaded it and began to listen. Now I want to go to Australia . . .
In a Sunburned Country is Bryson’s ode to Australia and recounts his multiple trips to the “land down under”. Bryson combines witty anecdotes of his adventures in travel, including a near drowning incident, with a review of Australia’s history, people and flora/fauna. The balance seems just about right – as soon as I found myself getting bored with a description of yet another animal that is unique to Australia, Bryson would start a comic story about one of his adventures down under. One of my favorites occurred during his trip to Alice Springs (which I am pretty sure I visited at least twice when I re-started the audiobook at the wrong point!) where he found himself with no in a spot with limited room availability. After one unlucky attempt to secure a room, he moved on to the next hotel only to wait in line behind an American couple and listen to their incessant line of questioning of the desk clerk about everything from the cost of a stamp for their postcards, whether there was an ironing board in the room to the location, to the hotel restaurant's hours and their best dishes. When the couple finally moves on, the desk clerk informs Bryson that they got the last available room in the hotel! Bryson's description of the scene was perfect- I could totally imagine standing behind this couple!
Bryson covers a lot of ground in the book - he travels all throughout the country and the fact that the Australia is such a large country is one that came up frequently - to the point when I began to wonder "When is he just going to accept that the country is big - things are far apart from each other?" His griping about the size of the country aside, however, Bryson's fondness for Australia is clear. His descriptions of the many natural wonders certainly make me yearn for a trip down under - I have added it to an already burgeoning list of countries I must visit. In the meantime, however, maybe I will re-listen to the audiobook and take my third trip to Alice Springs!