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Neither here nor there: Travels in Europe Kindle Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publication date : June 2, 2015
- File size : 964 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 2, 2015)
- ASIN : B00T3DR5DA
- Print length : 296 pages
- Language: : English
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #92,806 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Bryson’s journey began and ended in the two geographical outposts of Europe, Hammerfest and Istanbul. By virtue of his narrative both so inviting and vivid with the use of languages both colloquial and literal that are so characteristic of his writing style, readers will easily and willingly follow his train of travel through the chapters, as he first takes us to Hammerfest to watch the beautiful shimmering gossamer of Northern Lights. We find Bryson feeling not-so-attractive while sitting on a bench at a park in Copenhagen, where all people looked handsome and beautiful. Such existential estrangement became heightened in Belgium, for all along he felt homesick, reminiscing about an old diner in Iowa and its cantankerous but hearty old waitress he frequented. In Amsterdam, he was concerned about the country’s “oddly wearisome” social conventions in regard of its complacency toward untenable political stance under the banner of tolerance. We see Bryson in the streets of Stockholm disappointed in the perfect socialist country littered and defiled by wastes mindlessly thrown away anywhere by its civilized residents without a shade of shame.
And who would not but sympathize with Bryson’s pathos in Florence? Here in this City of Flowers, Bryson saw the ubiquitous Gypsies importune everyone, with their haggardly clothed little children as an instrument for orating their poverty to passers-by at which Bryson was righteously indignant. He questioned himself why the police were not making any efforts to stop the Gypsies from harassing people. Further in Austria, we feel for him as his idealization of Austria as the epitome of all things European was ungraciously punctured by unfriendly services, an irritatingly slow mode of business operation, and a lack of charming coffeehouses where he could rest his spent body and spirit for a time. What a Don Quixote-like journey full of episodes it was.
Bryson’s cultural notations of each country he visited were, however, devoid of malicious sarcasm or jingoistic ignorance of its customs or social conventions. Things that he experienced in his travel in Europe was a clash of cultures he came from – originally Iowa, The U.S. and England afterwards – and cultures he had imagined in his mind, all of which spellbound him like a Boy in Wonderland. In fact, what fascinated him in Europe was his discovery that the world could be full of variety in which there were many different ways of doing essentially identical things, such as eating and drinking and buying movie tickets.Unlike other travel writers who only write about the sunny sides of the countries and peoples in their interests, Bryson is unafraid of telling readers his observations through his experience with a certain kind of fraternal or even paternal affection with his trademark wits wonderfully interwoven with intelligence and humanism.
The travel ends in Istanbul with his hope of seeing more of the world, his everlasting wanderlust still luring with a vision of Asia across the Bosporus Bridge. He’s all up for the unforseeable happenings awaiting for him to encounter because that’s the glory of foreign travel, a travel to a terra ingonita where anyone can become a stranger, a wanderer blissfully ignorant of almost anything. To Bryson, the whole existence of traveler is to be constructed by a series of instantaneous guesses and endless actions. Notwithstanding all the woes of a lone traveler who was culture-bound, Bryson’s travels in Europe was something of his experience in Wonderland filled with a great sense of childlike wonder and appreciation of the wonders of each country in its own colors. Neither Here Nor There is his tale of veni vidi, vici experience and entertaining accounts of the world through his eyes with amusing and telling details resembling none other than themselves.
Unfortunately, the experience was lackluster and occasionally downright embarrassing. A writer I remembered as being witty and insightful now reads more like the uncle who uses racial slurs over Thanksgiving dinner.
Many of the observations in this book -are- clever and interesting - it's impossible not to be delighted at secondhand accounts of foreign transportation, dining, and mannerisms - but these reflections are peppered with weirdly prejudiced statements that are more jarring than entertaining. There is hardly a city he visits in which he does not give in to the impulse to describe just how attractive or unattractive he personally finds the women (there are ample lingering descriptions of women's breasts and butt as though they are just as ornamental as the architecture). In one section the idea of fat people having sex is described as "comic relief" and then not three chapters later he is discussing his own weight with self-deprecating but thoughtful tones that these anonymous people were evidently not entitled to. He goes to great lengths to describe in detail how repulsed he is by sex workers, and at one point mourns the loss of "Dutch wh*res" replaced by "Asians and Africans" - as though Asian or black and Dutch are two groups with no overlap.
There are a litany of such baffling narrative decisions too repetitive and uninteresting to list. Were it a few missteps the merits of this book might be able to shine through them, but as is, they were just too frequent and unpleasant to ignore. I am going to have to think very hard about reading another book by Bryson, as it's a tiring experience to have to brace myself for the experience of an adult man whining about his disgust at glimpsing armpit hair.
Top reviews from other countries
The journals of an American, who moved to Europe, decided to reside in UK because they speak English and comments on other Europeans isn't funny.
I thought the book would be funny when he encounters cultural and language differences and funny situations that happens to almost all of us while travelling. But this book describes people in a very stereotypical way, making judgements and even at sometimes racist. I understand that it was written back in 90's, otherwise it would have been rejected, not even published. £7 wasted.