Dec 19, 2018 in Book Review

A Walk of Shame?

The book “A Walk in the Woods” written by Bill Bryson (2012) tells us a story about his journey, his try to hike the Appalachian Trail that is almost 2,200 miles long. Bill Bryson is a middle-aged writer-traveler, who writes books about his trips in a quite humorous manner. He and his friend-companion Stephen Katz, who is magnificently out-of shape, were going on a journey, starting from Georgia and planning to finish in Maine, though everything went wrong.

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In my opinion, Bill Bryson is considered to be a reliable narrator. First, he does not pretend to be writing serious instructions for travelers or to make a survival plan for the people who are going hiking. He is a travelling humorous writer, and people anticipate acquiring from him an optimistic charge. Second, Bill Bryson’s genre suggests not a direct description of a certain person or event, thus, finding something fascinating in that thing, as well as something comical or entertaining. In order to make the book humorous, a writer needs to give the impression of being an optimist, which is a thorny campaign during hiking without the proper guidance. Third, there is hard to find a single person who opens the humorous book in search of manuals for action. The book “A Walk in the Woods” written by Bill Bryson (2012) forces people to open it not in search of something grave.

Bill Bryson and Stephen Katz often got into some kind of troubles. For example, they did not take a lot of provisions. In accordance with the fact that Stephen is a great heavy eater, soon their foodstuff had to run out. Nevertheless, Katz took the whole bag of Snickers; as a result, they ate Snickers for each breakfast. The author did not write any psychological odes on the subject of how starving affects a person and how to deal with it. He went the other way; in the evening, the author began to contrast the moon with the inside of the Oreo cookie, which means that up to that night both of two friends were quite hungry. One may admit that there was enough of useful and reliable information given by the author; however, the reader has to understand the analogy and take off the mask of humor to understand all the sense. The overall story is in harmony with the humorous style of the author’s writing.

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To my mind, there are several reasons why the author undertook such a long walk. First, Bill Bryson is a real supporter of the largest volunteer-run undertaking on the planet, - the Appalachian Trail. Second, one of the author’s goals was to show people several disadvantages of the whole route, such as bad maps, which may lead a traveler to disaster, dwellings infested with mice, and the strict rules, which do not allow a traveler to walk through the designated paths. The book narrates and cautions a reader about such possible hazards.

The book “A Walk in the Woods” forces reader to laugh (Bryson, 2012). For example, ahead of going into the same trip, Bryson discusses all the possible difficulties, one of which is bear attack. The author tells how the bear comes, how the reader hears a bear’s hard breathing, and then, suddenly, he realizes that the bear went to the handbag with Snickers because bears love them. The bear attack is quite possible and serious situation; nevertheless, the author tells it with the tinge of irony and humor.

One could not blame the author for being not honest in relation to the reader. Humorous style of writing suggests some unreal situations and comical remarks. After all, Bill Bryson is known for his humorous books on travel, English and science.

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