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16 April 2012

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I read Theroux's book earlier this year because it was referenced several times in my beloved "Notes from a Small Island" by Bill Bryson. However, Theroux was a big disappointment on a number fronts : he doesn't 'get' the British like Bryson does, he spends an interminable time writing about the south coast of England then the intervals between places becomes greater until Scotland is dealt with in a most cursory way, he lacks the humor of Bryson and becomes more and more of a "whingeing Pom" than an Englishman with those constant complaints about the rail system and the weather.

Heidi - ex-pat Scot, now resident in Australia

Heidi,
Hey, thanks for the Scottish view! Much more valuable than mine--I am not a Brit.
I think part of the difference between Theroux and Bryson is a difference in the times--I think in 1983 a lot of nonfiction, even travel nonfiction, was much more staid and less humorous (or gutsy?) than it is now. I really like Bill Bryson too but I have had so many people tell me they don't like him--they think he is too hard on people, or too snarky, etc.

But I totally agree that Scotland and northern GB got short shrift--in the beginning part of the book it did seem to take Theroux a long, detailed time to make his way very short distances on the Southern coast.

Thanks again. And glad to know you feel Bryson "gets" the British. How do you feel about someone like A. A. Gill?

Now I want to know what Mr. Bratby's response was.

Wow, you have readers from Australia . . .

Sarah,
Mr. Bratby had very little response, which Theroux commented on. I had to laugh at that too. No response is usually what follows any kind of rant, even a fairly prescient one like Theroux's.

I'm very happy to have a reader in Australia. Little does she know I'm going to show up at her house someday, asking for a free place to stay in Australia. (Just kidding, Heidi, no worries.) Ah the wonders of the Internet.

"All the technology would serve the rich" = isn't that what TF is advocating with his mega-speed Internet to those pods of the truly smart and deserving?

I've never tried AA Gill. Do you think I should?

turn up on my doorstep any tint, I'll turf one of the kids out of their room and into the garage, ply you with good Aussie wines and my mediocre cooking!

Heidi,
I think EVERYONE should try A.A. Gill. Try "A.A. Gill is Away" for travel writing or "The Angry Island" to see what he says about Great Britain and the English. I would totally love to hear what an ex-pat Scot thinks of him.

And thank you for the invitation. I'll start saving and sometime I'll surprise heck out of you (and the kid who gets turfed out to the garage) and show up. :)

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