Synopses & Reviews
One of the world's wittiest travel writers -- the bestselling author of Mother Tongue and Notes From a Small Island -- takes on the daunting, gorgeous Appalachian Trail.
"A Walk in the Woods" is a fantastically funny account of Bill Bryson's months walking the Appalachian Trail. Bryson is one of the best of our comic writers, and in this new audiobook his wit sparkles as never before as he takes on the most daunting and most beautiful walk in the world. From Springer Mountain in Georgia right up to Mount Katahdin in Maine, the Appalachian Trail has fascinated generations of walkers with its challenge and breathtaking beauty. Now, it has a writer to match its grandeur.
For reasons that even he doesn't understand, Bryson decided in 1996 to walk the trail on his return from a quarter century living on the "small island" of Great Britain. Starting out in Georgia, he and his infamous sidekick Katz (who appears in Neither Here Nor There; Bryson describes him as "single-handedly ensuring that Iowa has a thriving drug culture") attack the most beautiful and daunting trail, and in the process Bryson brings to life the great American outdoors. Spending damp nights in open shelters, feasting on noodles and candy bars, sweating up mountains and traipsing across swollen rivers, this is adventure and nature writing at its very best -- and funniest. One only has to read of Bryson's obsessive fear of bears, or his fight with a security guard who wants to impound his car (his crime was to try to look at a hill), or of Katz's encounter with Beulah and her fearsome husband "Bubba T. Flubba", to realize this is a comic writer at the height of his powers. And always in the background is the naturalworld, breathtaking and powerful, leading them on.
Along the way Bryson uses his dart-like wit to serious effect to reveal just what we are in danger of losing. As he says, "if the global temperature rises by 4degreeF over the next 50 years, as is evidently possible, then the whole of the Appalachian wilderness below New England could become Savanna". This is powerful and timely stuff, and Bryson misses no opportunity to highlight just how the Appalachian Trail needs committed and insightful guardianship if it is to survive and prosper into the next century.
"Not long after I moved with my family to a small town in New Hampshire, I happened upon a path that vanished into a wood on the edge of town."
So begins Bill Bryson's hilarious book A Walk in the Woods. Following his return to America after twenty years in Britain, Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The AT, as it's affectionately known to thousands of hikers, offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes--and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to test his own powers of ineptitude, and to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.
For a start, there's the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa who accompanies the similarly unfit Bryson on the trail. Once Bryson and Katz settle into their stride, it's not long before they come across the fabulously annoying Mary Ellen, whose disappearance ruins a perfectly good slice of pie, a gang of Ralph Lauren-attired yuppies from whom Katz appropriates a key piece of equipment, and a security guard in Pennsylvania who, for no ascertainable reason, impounds Bryson's car. Mile by arduous mile these latter-day pioneers walk America, along the way surviving the threat of bear attacks, the loss of key provisions, and everything else this awe-inspiring country can throw at them.
But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson's acute eye is a wise witness to this fragile and beautiful trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America's last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, a lament, and a celebration, A Walk in the Woods is destined to become a modern classic of travel literature.
About the Author
Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa. For twenty years he lived in England, where he worked for The Times and The Independent, and wrote for many major British and American publications. His books include the travel memoirs Neither Here nor There, The Lost Continent, and Notes from a Small Island, as well as The Mother Tongue and Made in America. He now lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his wife and four children.