©2000 Bill Bryson; (P)2000 Random House, Inc., Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, A Division of Random House Inc.
"Bryson's cheery Australian tale should entertain even the most listless driver. His strength lies in his ability to incorporate astounding facts about the country with nutty personal anecdotes." (Publishers Weekly)
I adore Bill Bryson's books, and this one is the usual blend of fascinating facts and fun anecdotes, so it's ironic that I would object to the author's narration. His voice is just low enough that every other phrase seemed to be a throwaway comment and it was a physical effort just to hear what was going on. In this case I would have preferred reading the book to myself.
Unless you really like Australia, start with one of his other books. A few great parts, but some lulls.
I listened to this in preparation for my own Australian excursion and found it to be a funny, throurough travelouge. The missing star is for the shortchanging Bill gives the indigenous cultures of Australia. He has little to do with such an enormous part of Aussie daily life. I spent a large part of my time in the Mildura region where I encountered a shocking amount of blatant racism towards the aborigines. In other areas, like Broken Hill, the aborigine art and culture is actually celebrated and a tourist draw.
I've never understood the attraction of visiting Australia, and, in all honesty, even after reading this book I still don't want to visit. However, as usual, I loved Bryson's style of presenting intformation, and I do know a lot more about the country. He reads it himself which is always a plus. I recommend pulling out an atlas to get your bearings, and then dive in.
I read "Lost Continent" when it came out and laughed myself silly! Recently I had a long car trip to take, and thought I'd re-acquaint myself with the author, and was disappointed.
The book is factually packed with useful information if you are planning a trip to Australia and need some background knowledge, but it is very long in this audio format with any entertainment way too thin on the ground (a couple of "ha's" every 5-10 mins and one laugh-out loud joke in the first hour is disappointing).
That leaves this heartfelt and interesting description of Australia in limbo between a travel book that doesn't give hotel phone numbers, and topical, entertaining writing that falls way short of the authors previous work.
Now I have thought this through, I've given it 2 stars instead of 3!
I learned a ton about Australia. I met some Australian dudes and I knew more about their country than they did.
I bought this book because of the reviews. The voice of the narrator was somewhat irritating and may have something to do with my not liking the story. I listened to the first CD and did not bother to "burn" the remaining CD's.
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