Reading Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There was a new step for me as a reader. I have entered the realm of the travelogue. As my first read in the genre I cannot readily compare this book to others like it nor have I read Bryson before. There were things I liked and things I loathed about this book so bare with me.
The text starts out strong, as Bryson explores Hammerfest, Oslo and Paris. It was a rough start to his journey and for these fifty pages I was laughing out loud. Actually, I read this section aloud to my mom. Bryson’s journey to Hammerfest revived memories of our foreign travels and we cracked up to Bryson’s sarcastic and self-deprecating sense of humor.
The next seventy pages were pure tedium as Bryson recounts mostly negative experiences and impressions while visiting several Germanic countries. The text also gravitated towards lewd jokes based off Bryson’s observations of trashy magazines, porn and such which simply did not interest me. Naked people can be found anywhere. One needn’t go to Europe to find them. This paired with his negative impressions caused the middle to drag.
Finally, Bryson breaks his route early and heads to Italy where his experience and the text became much more enjoyable. I enjoyed his Roman holiday having spent a week there myself. It was fun reliving some of the sights through the text and makes me want to go back.
The book is nearly twenty years old and while the ancient splendor of Europe remains some things have changed. For instance, the Euro has replaced country-specific currency which Bryson used. So, if you’re looking for up-to-date information this book is not what you need. Yet, if you want a feel for what an average American might experience while traveling in Europe, Bryson’s book may be for you.
Publisher: Perennial, 1992 Pages: 254
Rating: 2.5 Stars Source: purchased copy