Thursday, July 15, 2010

In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

This book greatly upset me. I'm upset because Bryson has numerous books out and this is the first I've ever heard of him. Upset because he's a very good writer and I've never read his work before! Where have I been??

In this book, travel writer Bryson makes it his mission to chronicle the little paid attention to Australia. I took particular interest because my grandma is from Queensland and I have family there, but have never been there. Sad. After reading this book, well, I'm not sure I ever want to go. How can a country so beautiful want so badly to kill people? Between the horrendous heat and emptiness of the country, the amount of deadly critters in the water (including shells that attack you) and the amount of deadly animals on land (the majority of the world's most deadliest snakes and spiders are Aussies), Australia doesn't seem to want visitors. Despite all this, Bryson depicts an incredible country full of life that cannot thrive elsewhere. Full of history that is rarely acknowledged and full of people that are kind, cheerful and welcome you.

Bryson is enough of a geek that I can relate, finding museum after museum to wander about in, getting giddy joy from rocks and plants and just being in the moment during the days of driving and not seeing another soul. But it's not all fun and games. Bryson gives insight into the plight of the Aborigines, their past of not being real people to the white man, and their present of not being real people to the white man. He ponders over how the Aborigines appeared in Australia at all and elaborates on how Australia was populated (most people know the penal colony history).

I do want to visit Australia now. Even if it does want me dead.
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