Top critical review
Way too much time on his hands
on July 18, 2002
"Everything you read from this moment forth is a tribute to what can be achieved as a result of a shabby night of booze."
Thus does Tony Hawks elegantly describe the genesis of his journey chronicled in ROUND IRELAND WITH A FRIDGE. To be more precise, it was the result of a drunken gamble made with a buddy that in itself doesn't make much sense. The bet was for 100 British pounds, and the refrigerator cost Hawks 130 pounds. What was he thinking? By the way, in case you're wondering, the fridge in question was a small cube perhaps two feet or less on a side, not one of the behemoths in which one stores provisions for a family of six (or beer and frozen pizza for a single bachelor).
The terms of the wager allowed Hawks, a comedian by profession, one calendar month to hitchhike the circumference of Ireland with fridge in tow. A month can accommodate a fair number of paying gigs. So, with apparently that much free time on his hands, one wonders how successful a comedian Tony was at the time (1997). Well, that's neither here nor there. In any case, the author's talent for dry humor translates well to the printed medium, as when he observes:
"Shooting hordes of insubordinate natives was acceptable when 'needs must', but jumping a queue was always quite intolerable. The whole raison d'être for a vast British Empire had been a desire to teach the ignorant peoples of the world how to queue correctly." Quite right. I think even the Queen would agree.
Indeed, it's the humor of ROUND IRELAND WITH A FRIDGE that supports the narrative as far as it goes. It falls short as a travel essay, which, in my mind, should be descriptive of the locale being traversed. Beyond this reader's conclusion that the Irish are remarkably tolerant of and generous to eccentrics, most of the insights gained don't extend beyond the walls of the many pubs where Hawks spends his hours when not actually on the road. Granted, this isn't entirely the author's fault. The friendly Irish are just always offering to buy him a pint. However, as an example, at one stage in his journey Tony and the fridge are coveyed between points A and B by a white van with "Galway Swan Rescue" emblazoned on the side. Now, I'd like to know what a swan rescuer does, but Hawks never tells, and my curiosity remains unsatisfied. This lack of useful information pervades the volume as a whole. In the end, the book's 247 pages were amusing enough to warrant three stars, but it's mindless reading with a capital "M". Even telling how he got a splinter while Doing It in a doghouse didn't add as much to the saga as he probably thought it might. Is Tony a girl's dream date, or what?