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Neither Here nor There : Travels in Europe Paperback – 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380713802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380713806
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #769,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Like many of his generation, Bill Bryson backpacked across Europe in the early seventies -- in search of enlightenment, beer, and women. Twenty years later he decided to retrace the journey he undertook in the halcyon days of his youth. The result is Neither Here Nor There, an affectionate and riotously funny pilgrimage from the frozen wastes of Scandinavia to the chaotic tumult of Istanbul, with stops along the way in Europe's most diverting and historic locales. Like many of his generation, Bill Bryson backpacked across Europe in the early seventies--in search of enlightenment, beer, and women. Twenty years later he decided to retrace the journey he undertook in the halcyon days of his youth. The result is Neither Here Nor There, an affectionate and riotously funny pilgrimage from the frozen wastes of Scandinavia to the chaotic tumult of Istanbul, with stops along the way in Europe's most diverting and historic locales.

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3.8 out of 5 stars

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Merritt on May 29 2004
Format: Paperback
"Traveling is more fun," Bill Bryson (aka "Bernt Bjornson") observes in this hilarious account of his backpack travels through Europe, "hell, life is more fun--if you can treat it as a series of impulses" (p. 131). After first backpacking through Britain, Ireland, Scandanavia, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy in 1972 (p. 13), as a "skinny, shy" 20-year-old American from Iowa, lost in "private astonishment" (p. 20), and then returning with Stephan Katz (Bryson's memorable hiking companion in A WALK IN THE WOODS) the following summer (p. 20), Bryson attempts to recapture that experience nearly twenty years later in NEITHER HERE NOR THERE. Bryson lived in England for fifteen years before setting out on his midlife pilgrimage from Hammerfest, Norway to Oslo, Paris, Brussels, Belgium, Cologne, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Rome, Naples, Florence, Milan, Como, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Yugoslavia, Sofia and Istanbul. While the result is characteristic Bryson, this book doesn't quite hit the mark of some of Bryson's other books (e.g., A WALK IN THE WOODS, A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING, NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND), primarily for the following reason.
Somewhere along the way, Bryson lost his sense of "private astonishment" for Europe. Wherever he travels in this book, and as hard has he tries, Bryson is unable to recapture his youthful sense of wonder for Europe again; it is neither here nor there. As a result, and as numerous other reviewers have previously noted, this is the travel narrative of a xenophobic tourist, who finds very little to praise about his experience traveling through Europe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vince Cabrera on Oct. 4 2000
Format: Paperback
I was quite curious to see what Bryson would make of Milan, the city where I live. I'd already read quite a few of his other books so I was looking forward to an interesting, intelligent read. Instead, I was amazed: the man was unable to find a coffee shop in the centre of town.
This makes me have my doubts about Bryson as a travel writer. If he couldn't find a coffee shop in a town that has at least two on every block, who knows how many other things he is wrong about? Can I trust his observations on other countries?
On the positive side, the book is amusing, the anecdotes about his youth are funny and his observations are interesting even if after a while they become somewhat trite and predictable. They usually run along the lines of "Why would anyone in their right mind tear down this <insert word here> to put up a modern <insert word here>"). This is a book that's certainly worth reading, even if it's not worth taking seriously.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By richard tremblay on April 4 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the first book by Bill Bryson I've read. I was attracted to the fact that he wrote light and funny books. The beginning of Neither Here Nor There is quirky, amusing, and promising. Unfortunately it goes downhill from there (at a leisurely pace I must admit). But, as many reviewers have noted, the problem is that Bryson travels alone and can't speak any of the languages of the countries he travels to. So he can't really interact with the locals except in a very passive way. And we are left with descriptions of shopping streets, restaurants and bistros where the author only orders sandwiches and beers, smokes cigarettes and reads paperbacks.

This is pretty much it. The book starts on a good note then it becomes repetitive, with a few amusing anecdotes thrown here and there, very little of them. I would rate it as an okay read for the bus or the train, nobody will be annoyed by your chuckling as there will be so few of that.
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Format: Paperback
NEITHER HERE NOR THERE is one of Bryson's earlier travel books, conceived somewhere around 1991. It is a tour of Europe, excluding Spain, Portugal, and Greece. Bryson's method of operation is to steer clear of tours and find lodging and food as needed; his planning is in maps and cultural background reading. He travels by foot, train and bus. This formula produces more winning museum visits and views than desirable rides,lodging and food, but he is not a glass half empty kind of guy. He voices his opinion about bad food and attitudes but he is generous with praise when it is deserved.
There is much to enjoy in this book: Bryson's style of humor, often bratty and tear-inducing in its hilarity, is full throttle. While it is not a muse or a sentimental journey, his travels coincide with the 1973 itinerary of his hitchhiking days with pal Steven Katz, the memorable sidekick from A WALK IN THE WOODS. Bryson sprinkles this book with memories and lessons learned from that first foray. The one thing NEITHER HERE NOR THERE lacks is the degree of information with which he packs his later books, particularly IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY. As he sets off in Paris, he visits a musty old bookstore called Shakespeare & Company and says nothing--c'mon, Bryson, think Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, Joyce! He does get better as he gets into the trip, though, and refuses to let Austria and Kurt Waldheim off the hook for their roles in World War II.
One last note: it is interesting to see Europe before the Euro and Sarajevo and Belgrade in that sliver of time between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the devastation of the 1990s. This book is at once very contemporary (American fast food chains everywhere) and yet historic.
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