In a Sunburned Country

Bill Bryson, Author
Bill Bryson, Author Broadway Books $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7679-0385-1
Reviewed on: 05/29/2000
Release date: 06/01/2000
Downloadable Audio - 1 pages - 978-1-4159-5077-7
Hardcover - 592 pages - 978-0-375-43056-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-50255-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-553-50259-6
Open Ebook - 270 pages - 978-0-7679-0766-8
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-7679-0386-8
Paperback - 376 pages - 978-0-385-25941-5
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-385-25940-8
Prebound-Glued - 335 pages - 978-1-60686-459-3
Open Ebook - 245 pages - 978-1-299-21713-3
Paperback - 408 pages - 978-89-255-4575-2
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With the Olympics approaching, books on Australia abound. Still, Bryson's lively take is a welcome recess from packaged, staid guides. The author of A Walk in the Woods draws readers in campfire-style, relating wacky anecdotes and random facts gathered on multiple trips down under, all the while lightening the statistics with infusions of whimsical humor. Arranged loosely by region, the book bounces between Canberra and Melbourne, the Outback and the Gold Coast, showing Bryson alone and with partners in tow. His unrelenting insistence that Australia is the most dangerous place on earth (""If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback"") spins off dozens of tales involving jellyfish, spiders and the world's 10 most poisonous snakes. Pitfalls aside, Bryson revels in the beauty of this country, home to ravishing beaches and countless unique species (""80% of all that lives in Australia, plant and animal, lives nowhere else""). He glorifies the country, alternating between awe, reverence and fear, and he expresses these sentiments with frankness and candor, via truly funny prose and a conversational pace that is at once unhurried and captivating. Peppered with seemingly irrelevant (albeit amusing) yarns, this work is a delight to read, whether or not a trip to the continent is planned. First serial to Outside magazine; BOMC selection. (June)
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