Let’s talk about my romance with Mr. Bill Bryson. It started in a cool dusky room where I lay bundled up in blankets learning all about the cosmos and scientists and all the awesome in one fell swoop in A Short History of Nearly Everything. That still ranks as one of the highest books I need to re-read but consistently can’t because I always seem to pass it off to the next person who must read it.
From there to A Walk in the Woods, his journey on the Appalachian Trail, and on to At Home, his examination of all the small stuff we have in our homes and how they came to be that way. And now to In a Sunburned Country, his story about his adventures in Australia.
Hmm, how to put this? I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it. I would recommend to Australia-maniacs (if there are any) but wouldn’t recommend it to just anybody. For me, it didn’t have the same soul searching feel that A Walk in the Woods had, and while much smaller in scope, didn’t seem to carry the full weight of Australia that A Short History managed to cover with, erm, everything.
That being said, I still really enjoyed the book and, like I said, if there’s something about Australia that just pulls at you–those big wide open skies, the similar culture so near to our own and yet on the other side of the world, or just the whole mystery of the Aboriginal migration into Australia (yes, count me on the nerd side)–then this certainly is a fun book. He manages to bring us from Sydney to a road trip across the bush, to one of the oldest organisms in the world, to one of the deadliest. His breadth, as always, is unparalleled.
Also, I totally google imaged my way through this book–looking at pictures of Uluru and modern Aborigines and the most filmed outback bars. So yes, it was a fun time.
Now, what you’ll need with this book, especially with a 15 hour audio version, is some sipping to go along with it. This one was just too stupid easy to pair as I’ve wanted to highlight one of my favorite varietals for a while — Australian Shiraz.
Layer Cake’s Shiraz is a heavy full-bodied wine from South Australia that should really be paired with a meal competing in complexity (I’m thinking lamb or something as earthy–my falafel was not the right fit). It’s a great slow sipping wine, as intense as the continent it hails from, with (I promise this is on the website) “a touch of cigar box.” No, no there was no taste of cigar box to be had…
Have you read any of Bill Bryson’s books?