Neither Here nor There : Travels in Europe Paperback – 2001
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is Bryson's most hilarious. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a many good belly laughs.Published 1 month ago by Doug Tedford
I have read several books by Bill Bryson which is why I purchased Neither Here nor There. I wasn't keen on it from the beginning, it just doesn't measure up to his other books. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Beatrice Maude
I've recently become a Bryson fan and I anticipated an insightful and funny account of his travels in Europe. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Dave54
Everyone raves about Bill Bryon. I found this book to be written in a smart alec and I also found some of his observations really unnecessary and they added nothing to the book. Read morePublished 10 months ago by pat scanlan
Great book to take along on any trip to Europe. Not so much as a guide, but as a reminder that travelling is a journey - make the best of it.Published 10 months ago by Mustanganna
This is book no longer topical as Bryson wrote it in the early 1990s. And time has rendered much of it out of date. In it, he is his usual humorous self. Read morePublished 13 months ago by evan llewellyn
As usual, Bill Bryson is very funny and looks at the world with his special blend of irony and compassion. Read morePublished 14 months ago by papabearpierre
this book made me laugh out loud…soooo funny!! I have become a devoted Bill Bryson fan thanks to this book. :-)Published on Nov. 25 2013 by W.W.T.
Not for the serious travel buff. I have been to almost all the same places and found it incredible that Bill Bryson made such little effort to interact with the locals. Read morePublished on April 7 2013 by travelguy