A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
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Soon to be a major motion picture starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.
The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).
- Amazon Sales Rank: #2434 in Books
- Brand: Bryson, Bill
- Published on: 2006-12-26
- Released on: 2006-12-26
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 6.90" h x 1.20" w x 4.20" l, .45 pounds
- Binding: Mass Market Paperback
- 397 pages
Your initial reaction to Bill Bryson's reading of A Walk in the Woods may well be "Egads! What a bore!" But by sentence three or four, his clearly articulated, slightly adenoidal, British/American-accented speech pattern begins to grow on you and becomes quite engaging. You immediately get a hint of the humor that lies ahead, such as one of the innumerable reasons he longed to walk as many of the 2,100 miles of the Appalachian Trail as he could. "It would get me fit after years of waddlesome sloth" is delivered with glorious deadpan flair. By the time our storyteller recounts his trip to the Dartmouth Co-op, suffering serious sticker shock over equipment prices, you'll be hooked.
When Bryson speaks for the many Americans he encounters along the way--in various shops, restaurants, airports, and along the trail--he launches into his American accent, which is whiny and full of hard r's. And his southern intonations are a hoot. He's even got a special voice used exclusively when speaking for his somewhat surprising trail partner, Katz. In the 25 years since their school days together, Katz has put on quite a bit of weight. In fact, "he brought to mind Orson Welles after a very bad night. He was limping a little and breathing harder than one ought to after a walk of 20 yards." Katz often speaks in monosyllables, and Bryson brings his limited vocabulary humorously to life. One of Katz's more memorable utterings is "flung," as in flung most of his provisions over the cliff because they were too heavy to carry any farther.
The author has thoroughly researched the history and the making of the Appalachian Trail. Bryson describes the destruction of many parts of the forest and warns of the continuing perils (both natural and man-made) the Trail faces. He speaks of the natural beauty and splendor as he and Katz pass through, and he recalls clearly the serious dangers the two face during their time together on the trail. So, A Walk in the Woods is not simply an out-of-shape, middle-aged man's desire to prove that he can still accomplish a major physical task; it's also a plea for the conservation of America's last wilderness. Bryson's telling is a knee-slapping, laugh-out-loud funny trek through the woods, with a touch of science and history thrown in for good measure. (Running time: 360 minutes, four cassettes) --Colleen Preston
From Publishers Weekly
Returning to the U.S. after 20 years in England, Iowa native Bryson decided to reconnect with his mother country by hiking the length of the 2100-mile Appalachian Trail. Awed by merely the camping section of his local sporting goods store, he nevertheless plunges into the wilderness and emerges with a consistently comical account of a neophyte woodsman learning hard lessons about self-reliance. Bryson (The Lost Continent) carries himself in an irresistibly bewildered manner, accepting each new calamity with wonder and hilarity. He reviews the characters of the AT (as the trail is called), from a pack of incompetent Boy Scouts to a perpetually lost geezer named Chicken John. Most amusing is his cranky, crude and inestimable companion, Katz, a reformed substance abuser who once had single-handedly "become, in effect, Iowa's drug culture." The uneasy but always entertaining relationship between Bryson and Katz keeps their walk interesting, even during the flat stretches. Bryson completes the trail as planned, and he records the misadventure with insight and elegance. He is a popular author in Britain and his impeccably graceful and witty style deserves a large American audience as well.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA-Leisurely walks in the Cotswolds during a 20-year sojourn in England hardly prepared Bryson for the rigors of the Appalachian Trail. Nevertheless, he and his friend Katz, both 40-something couch potatoes, set out on a cold March morning to walk the 2000-mile trail from Georgia to Maine. Overweight and out of shape, Katz jettisoned many of his provisions on the first day out. The men were adopted by Mary Ellen, a know-it-all hiker eager to share her opinions about everything. They finally eluded her, encountered some congenial hikers, and after eight days of stumbling up and down mountains in the rain and mud, came to Gatlinburg, TN. Acknowledging they would never make it the whole way, they decided to skip the rest of the Smokies and head for the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia-by car. Late that summer, for their last hike, the pair attempted to hike the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine, near the trail's end. They got separated and Bryson spent a day and night searching for his friend. When they finally were reunited, "...we decided to leave the endless trail and stop pretending we were mountain men because we weren't." This often hilarious account of the foibles of two inept adventurers is sprinkled with fascinating details of the history of the AT, its wildlife, and tales of famous and not-so-famous hikers. In his more serious moments, Bryson argues for the protection of this fragile strip of wilderness. YAs who enjoy the outdoors, and especially those familiar with the AT, will find this travelogue both entertaining and insightful.
Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful.
This hyar Suthin' boy is het up bout yo' book!
An entertaining read and Mr. Bryson is a talented wordsmith. That being said, there are some disappointments. First, he doesn't actually through-hike. He skips large portions of the Trail Second, the amount of stuff his partner throws out along the way is disgraceful. I guess they failed to grasp the concept of Leave No Trace. Third, his continued derisive, condescending comments about the South and Southerners really turned me off. Granted, there are still Deliverance-type folks in north Georgia. And south Georgia, northwest Florida, Alabama, West Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana, just to name a few places I have personal experience with. His repetitious mockery of all things southern ruined what started off as a really enjoyable read. His comments mark him as that most hated (by Southerners) type- the damn Yankee. This is as opposed to "Northerners", people who were just unfortunate enough to not be born in the South. They are usually quite tolerable folks. No problem. The Yankee, however, still believes that we all wear bib overalls, chew tobacco, have no running water or electricity, much less any education. They feel they are on a divine mission to educate all us backwards rednecks and save us from ourselves. In this era where words like "racism", "woman-hating", "homophobic", etc are tossed about with little or no provocation, the only group that remains fair game to deride and ridicule is the Southern white male.
Mr. Bryson's disgusting regionalism really takes the shine off an otherwise entertaining story.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
A couple of laughs but that's it
By Louise de Longte
I read this straight after reading Cheryl Strayed's Wild which I absolutely loved. This book had a couple of laughs but on the whole I didn't really enjoy it. I wanted to read about their journey and the people they met on the trail. Instead over half of the book is American history which may suit a lot of people. But if I'd wanted to learn about that topic, I would have read a book about it. Found myself skipping through lots of pages. Disappointing ... at least for this reader.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
As always, better than the movie
By F. Elizabeth Hauser
Bryson's humor is laugh-out-loud-in -the-middle-of-the-night delicious! His weaving of the natural and political history of the area covered by the AT, as well as other notable sites, particularly our National Parks, with his observations and experiences on the trail, make this book a treasure and a delight unlike any other book of its kind. IS there another book anything like this? Not really, though there are many written accounts of hiking the AT, most quite good. No other author has given readers the rich description of landscape, and certainly not the depth and breadth of geological, botanical and human history surrounding the trail that Bill Bryson delivers, with wit and a command of language and vocabulary that is at once so accessible and yet so richly diverse. All while retaining a distinctly entertaining British paradigm. That said, it does enrich the book to be able to visualize Robert Redford and Nick Nolte in the lead characters of Bryson's tale.