Sat 22 Mar, 2003 01:31 pm
Has anyone ever read the hilarious travel writings of Bill Bryson? No other writer can make me laugh out loud like he does!
I've got some Bryson, and like him quite a bit. However, my all time favourite travel book is >>> Our Hearts Were Young and Gay <<< click
by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough. Ask Setanta, I get close to hysterical just at the thought of a few phrases in that book. He tried to read part of it to me once, and gave up in disgust (well not quite disgust, but maybe dismay) because I kept breaking into fits of giggles and honks in anticipation of the next scene.
Emily went on to write some other excellent books about travel - one of them has created a desire to try barge travel in Europe that I will have to deal with someday, but omigawd, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay is Pyourpants funny.
I am currently reading In a Sunburned Country, which is about Australia, and Notes from a Small Island, about Britain. I've never read Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. I'll have to get that one.
Also, I requested the Pete McCarthy, which is called McCarthey's Bar.
Thanks for the suggestions.
Erma Bombeck did a travel book. If you liked her humor, it was also worth reading.
Yes - that's the Bill Bryson one - I knew it had another name elsewhere! He captures the Oz character quite well - probably more due to his time in England, rather than his being an American. Australians are different, and probably the English recognise it better. I loved his ridiculous description of cricket, and often think of it when the cricket's on, and I'm a fan. I listen to the radio broadcasts and giggle away!. (especially tonight - World Cup final in South Africa: Australia vs India)
Beth - I recall reading "Our hearts were young and gay" many years ago. I don't recall too much about it - but do remember enjoying it (does that sound daffy?)
This question sent me looking at my fair collection of travel books for the funny ones, and there doesn't seem to be that many. One I really enjoyed is "Round Ireland with a fridge" by Tony Hawks, which has patches of plain hilarity. (note the Irish theme again!). His follow up book, "Playing tennis with the Moldavians" is just too contrived.
I've read Chris Stewart's "Driving over lemons" and have just finished the sequel, "A parrot in the pepper tree". Both are fun, interesting reads, but I wouldn't describe them as funny!
One book I've just read again, at Lil K's suggestion, is Jerome K Jerome's 'Three men in a boat", originally written in 1889. This is quite amusing, in an English sort of way. I note that Dagmaraka uses a quote from this as her signature tagline here.
Peter Moore's book "No shitting in the toilet - the travel guide for when you've completely lost it" has some great parts. He's an Australian, and it's written with an Australian eye - and I'm not too sure how this translates elsewhere.
I would recommend against anything by Paul Theroux if you want funny. While his books may have some amusing content, they couldn't be described as funny - especially his more recent ones. Some of his earlier works were quite amusing.
Roger - I don't know the Erma Bombeck book - but it must be back a bit now.
I'm hoping we get some more posters to the thread, with more suggestions. I look forward to some more opinions, and somethign else to read. Meanwhile, I hope "On the road to McCarthy" keeps until June.
Margo - i just bought Driving over Lemons at a discounter. I'm hopeful it will be amusing enough to distract me on the subway, without causing actual laughter - which another book caused tonight, to the apparent concern of a couple of fellow travellers.
I am not so attracted to extremely ha-ha books, but I'm sure I have some Horrible Travel Stories type books in my travel book cartons. (Shelves, shelves...) Twain's Innocents Abroad, I liked that, but I read it about ten years ago and can't recall if I bellowed out loud at any point.
Avoid McCarthy's Pub, then. I was apparently quite distracting / irritating / noisy on the flight to London! I was really sorry to finish it. And my hosts in Sweden purloined it. So I can't go back and read it again!
mags, I first read Bill Bryson when he was an emerging writer in Granta magazine, which comes out of England and is a division of Penguin books. it was an autobiographical story of his growing up in Iowa, and at first read I thought it was hilarious.
However, I reread the story a few years later and found it to be insulting. He talked about how girls in Iowa go from being young and beautiiful to unsightly overweight, useless women. At the core of his writing was a snobbishness and an elitism that put me off. Especially, if you have seen what he looks like, he too went from ( most likely ) being a thin, cute Midwestern boy to an out-of-shape middle ager. For some reason, oblivious to him, his corpulence is an acceptable trait.
I've read Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, which I greatly appreciated; images from his scene setting in that book float to mind from time to time...in particular, I can visualize the character I call the horrible hiker; I can conjer her up with ease, and some sorrow for her.
I recently read Lost Continent, which I believe is the book Gala is speaking of. I finished it, but it annoyed me over and over. It was, in my opinion, too mockingly dismissive of too many places and people. Not that I always mind dismissive...but that the dismissal was cursory. Los Angeles, a city of many millions, for example, got one dismissive sentence, possibly two.
I think A Walk was written by an older, more mature Bryson, but I am not sure of that.
Another vote for Bill Bryson and Pete McCarthy. I also loved:
Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman
So far................. Crete on the Half Shell........ by Byron Ayanoglu is getting major newspaper praise. Durning the books editing process, the editor said she hadn't had such good laughs in awhile...
Official launch date March 25,2003 @ Avli restaurant Toronto, Ontario. Between 5 and 8 pm. All invited. A HarperFlamingo book. I'll be there..........hope to see ehBeth..... ehbeth r you coming ?
The funniest alleged 'travelouge' I ever read was "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". I have no idea how much actually happened, but it was great reading... "I want a rising sound"...
I saw this thread title and immediately thought of A Sunburned Land (or is it country?). I'll have to check out these other books.
Mostly posting to bookmark and check back.
Also, I'm currently reading Dale Peterson's "Storyville, U.S.A." in which he takes his son and daughter all around the country looking for small towns with fascinating names. Not laugh-out-loud hilarious, but fun and very interesting so far. Still trying to decide if he's being condescending toward some of the people he encounters or if he's just trying to use their voices in telling their stories and having a little trouble with the transitions between educated New Englander with Enormous Vocabulary and regular people from Everywhere Else...
If we're talking travel more generally, rather than touristic travel (?), I'd have to recommend the roaringly funny Three Men in Boat from the end of the 19th century. Author is Jerome ?. Jerome (forgot the middle initial - k maybe)
Oh boy! Lots!
"I Should Have Stayed Home" is a great anthology.
"Into the Heart of Borneo" by Redmond O'Hanlon is definitely a don't-read-in-public-unless-you-don't-mind-making-a-spectacle-of-yourself one. (As I did on a beach in Florida...)
Gerald Durrel has his memoirs of childhood which are somewhat travelish but later ones ("Overloaded Ark") are more explicitly travel related.
Tim Cahill can be very funny ("A WOlverine is Eating My Leg")
"Motoring with Mohammed" by Eric Hansen is a good un.
I really recommend the Vintage Departures imprint/ publisher -- we have about two shelves' worth.