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Showing 1-25 of 40 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 3, 2008, 12:11:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 9, 2008, 9:53:29 AM PDT
Bill Walker says:
Amongst readers of Bill Bryson's inimitable narrative, A Walk in the Woods, there is a running debate about his hapless hiking companion, Katz. Some critics even go so far as to suggest that Katz was a fictional character. That' ridiculous.

First of all, Bryson refers to Katz in two more of his books, including the recently published Thunderbolt Kid. He acknowledges using a pseudonyum for Katz. But, more importantly, he says that despite Katz's monumental character flaws, he is nonetheless one of the finest people he (Bryson) ever met. Katz in fact took the rap for some high school prank of theirs and was expelled to military reform school.

But a further reason to be a Katz fan is very simple. He is quite representative of a large sample of the AT's annual 4,000,000 strong hiking population. Fat, out-of-shape, struggling; but, at the end of the day he develops a measure of gratitude for the great American institution--the Appalachian Trail.
Skywalker--author of Skywalker--Close Encounters on the
Appalachian Trail

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2009, 6:00:19 AM PDT
Tim Jekel says:
In the Thunderbolt Kid, the Katz character himself claims most of the material in "A Walk in the Woods" is fictional. This real issue is not whether Bryson hiked the AT with SOMEONE, but whether he hiked it with the character he describes. Has he distorted his hiking buddy so far from reality that he is a caricature of a person, rather than a real person. His name is fictionalized which gives Bryson lattitude to inject all manner of creative license in developing a humorous side-kick. It is fine to be a Katz fan as long as you know he doesn't exist.

Posted on Oct 24, 2009, 10:26:49 AM PDT
Ah, but he does exist. Steve Katz of Bakersfield, CA, is a close personal friend and a Superior Court judge in Kern County. If Bryson was going to fabricate his traveling companion, this Steve Katz would be the perfect model. He's comical, intelligent, and would probably be somewhat inept on the trail. The monumental character flaws, however, are entirely fictional because the Steve Katz I know doesn't have any.

Posted on Oct 24, 2009, 5:25:57 PM PDT
Bill Walker says:
The AT at its best accomodates the worst. That would be Katz. Yes, Bryson serially exagerrates and probably did so in the case of Katz. However, the larger issue is that there are Katzs out there. And they add greatly to campsite conversations because it is what went wrong that generates the most feverish interest. Hail to Katz. He has many imitators.

Skywalker--Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail

Posted on Feb 10, 2010, 9:04:27 AM PST
Andrewski says:
Steve Katz probably does exist. However, I doubt very much that is his real name and I doubt he is Jewish.

Posted on Jun 17, 2010, 6:26:27 AM PDT
I love Katz. I refuse to believe that he is too highly fictionalized. Altho, using his own philosophy, I have experience him and the book and it doesn't matter if I choose to believe in a slightly fictionalized hero...just like he hiked the AT, doesn't matter that he didn't get to Katahdin.

Posted on Jul 12, 2010, 6:24:26 AM PDT
Katz' real name is Matt Angerer, as revealed in several interviews 4 or 5 years ago. He lives in Des Moines.

Posted on Oct 21, 2010, 9:14:28 PM PDT
philoe says:
its a great book, i hope someone does make a movie about it, it was going to be, but not, it would make for a cool movie, katz is so cool, he would be fun to hike with,,,,,,hey katz,,,where is ur food, lol

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 22, 2010, 7:29:47 AM PDT
Katz represents one of the great strands of the AT community--the enlightened mediocrity. There are lots of Katzes out there; better yet, being mediocre is ego-destroying and humor inducing. Hail to Katz, and the next step should be a U.S, Post office stamp in his honor.

Skywalker--Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail

Posted on Oct 22, 2010, 3:44:49 PM PDT
Yeah....I love this approach.

Posted on Oct 22, 2010, 6:54:55 PM PDT
Which would be more exciting-an Elvis or a Katz spotting on the AT? Either one would beat a bear spotting. Better yet, Katz pouring out all the water on a hot day would be a scene for the ages.


Posted on Jun 11, 2011, 9:57:10 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 11, 2011, 9:58:27 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 19, 2011, 7:21:27 AM PDT
Ryan Neil says:
I tried to google for a picture of Matt Angerer and couldn't find any. Does anyone know where I could find one? I would really like to put a face to the stories.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 19, 2011, 7:30:59 AM PDT
That would probably require some Sherlock Holmes skills. My guess is that Bryson has a financial arrangement with Katz in which Katz (Matt Angerer) is required to keep his mouth shut, and not pooh-pooh their story in any way. Bryson does talk extensively about Katz in the Thunderbolt Kid.

Skywalker--Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail

Posted on Oct 6, 2011, 1:04:15 PM PDT
I'd love to adapt the book to a screenplay. But, it would be practically impossible for me to get it to anyone who matters.

In my mind's eye, I see Tom Hanks as Bryson and Artie Lange as Katz.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2011, 7:31:04 PM PDT
Good idea. I'd buy tickets.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2011, 8:08:01 PM PDT
Supposedly, Nick Nolte is going to play Katz. Of course, any idiot (like myself) could probably give it a pretty good go.


Posted on Oct 7, 2011, 6:24:24 PM PDT
This discussion has been going on so long that I wonder if it will really ever happen.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 7, 2011, 7:31:09 PM PDT
Your skepticism is warranted. But at the end of the day, why wouldn't Sundance do the movie. They paid for it. Probably would have already been made if Paul Newman hadn't gotten decrepit and died. He would have been the perfect Katz.


Posted on Nov 20, 2012, 4:35:31 AM PST
Katz is an American Classic. In the movie version, I think Philip Seymour Hoffman could play both Katz and Bryson.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 20, 2013, 2:49:42 PM PDT
LizaJane says:
Tom Hanks is too skinny to be Bryson.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 21, 2013, 7:48:15 AM PDT
Bill Walker says:
How about DeNiro? Too old? Or perfect?

Posted on Jun 21, 2013, 7:51:49 AM PDT
Tim Jekel says:
I like the idea of Hoffman playing both characters - with enough disguise and make up - a bit of Hollywood magic, people might not even notice.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2014, 8:02:47 PM PDT
Ralph Rossi says:
Just read "A Walk in the Woods", did some searching and found a youtube interview with Bryson. Go to: The South Bank Show - Bill Bryson, at about 6:30 minutes into the video you'll see Bill driving around and reminiscing with who I believe is Matt Angerer aka Stephen Katz. Give it a look.

Posted on Aug 11, 2014, 5:25:54 AM PDT
Tim Jekel says:
Nice digging! I can see how Matt would be the inspiration for a fictional character like Katz.

Unless I see evidence to the contrary, what I am going with is that Katz is a made up character, based to a greater or lesser extent on friend Matt Angerer, but that Matt was not actually on the trail with Bill, he simply imagined him into his journey and story.
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Participants:  18
Total posts:  40
Initial post:  Jul 3, 2008
Latest post:  Sep 10, 2015

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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (Mass Market Paperback - December 26, 2006)
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