While I was traveling down under in 2003, a fellow traveler recommended I read Down Under by Bill Bryson. After two months in Australia traveling up the East Coast and around the Outback, I bought the book. Once I completed my travels in New Zealand, I took a nice long week in Bora Bora and Tahiti. I know I had the time to read a good book or I hoped it would be a good one, but at this point, I’ve never heard of Bill Bryson nor have I read any of his books. Well, I was hooked after “Down Under”! I was amazed how this American born writer was able to write so clearly with such precision. Bill Bryson has the ability to tell a story and describe the area flawlessly. He layers on a bit of wit and sprinkles some humor like tying a beautiful ribbon around an elegant package. The package is great without the ribbon, but with the ribbon the package pops! This is the only way I can describe his writing. He’s a word artist. His words create a symphony of thoughts, which provokes emotion in the reader.
Recently, he was on tour and made a stop in Fredrick, Maryland, which was sponsored by the local library. I couldn’t miss it! This was the closest I’ll ever be to Bill Bryson. I took off from work and drove six hours to listen to him speak and maybe, meet him face to face. Now, you would think I would have his Down Under book, but I don’t. I ended up giving it away and read his book “Neither Hear, Nor There”, where he writes about his backpacking adventure around Europe. It was hilarious! The auditorium was packed with Bill Bryson fans standing along the wall and five or six rows thick towards the back of the room blocking exit doors. At the end, I stood in line for three hours, so he could sign my book – his travels in Europe – coming the farthest to hear and meet a legend in the industry.
I speak of Bill Bryson like he’s a famous star and in my world he is. I recommend you read one of his travel books once you’ve been there yourself. His book will come alive! You’ll laugh out loud, you’ll cry and nod your head in agreement. He has the ability to take you back to the same cities, roads and corners drawing up such feelings that you experience your own journey once again. Only a talented writer is able to invoke such emotion and jog ones memory.
Travel writing is an art and to find a writer that speaks to you is priceless. I love to travel, experience new cultures, meet new people, explore destinations and go on adventures. It’s a treat when a talented writer has the ability to put in words the feelings and thoughts I’ve had myself. A gift I am grateful for. Allora, thank you Bill. You rock!