A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods

Paperback Black Swan

By (author) Bill Bryson

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  • Publisher: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 26mm | 259g
  • Publication date: 1 August 1998
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0552997021
  • ISBN 13: 9780552997027
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Illustrations note: map
  • Sales rank: 20,688

Product description

The longest continuous footpath in the world, the Appalachian Trail stretches along the East Coast of the United States, from Georgia to Maine, through some of the most arresting and celebrated landscapes in America. At the age of forty-four, in the company of his friend Stephen Katz (last seen in the bestselling Neither Here nor There), Bill Bryson set off to hike through the vast tangled woods which have been frightening sensible people for three hundred years. Ahead lay almost 2,200 miles of remote mountain wilderness filled with bears, moose, bobcats, rattlesnakes, poisonous plants, disease-bearing tics, the occasional chuckling murderer and - perhaps most alarming of all - people whose favourite pastime is discussing the relative merits of the external-frame backpack. Facing savage weather, merciless insects, unreliable maps and a fickle companion whose profoundest wish was to go to a motel and watch The X-Files, Bryson gamely struggled through the wilderness to achieve a lifetime's ambition - not to die outdoors.

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Author information

Bill Bryson is much loved for his bestselling travel books, from The Lost Continent to Down Under, but Notes from a Small Island has earned a particularly special place in the nation's heart (a national poll for World Book Day in 2003 voted it the book that best represents Britain). His acclaimed A Short History of Nearly Everything won the Aventis Prize for Science Books and the Descartes Science Communication Prize. He has now returned to live in the UK with his wife and family. www.billbryson.co.uk

Review quote

"Choke-on-your-coffee funny" Washington Post "This is a seriously funny book" -- Sue Townsend The Sunday Times "Short of doing it yourself, the best way of escaping into nature is to read a book like A Walk in the Woods... Mr Bryson has met this challenge with zest and considerable humor... a funny book, full of dry humor... the reader is rarely anything but exhilarated" The New York Times "Entertaining and often illuminating" -- Paul Johnson Sunday Telegraph "Irreverent, wildly funny, crowded with anecdotes and observation" Ideal Home

Editorial reviews

The Appalachian Trail - from Springer Mountain, Ga., to Mount Katahdin, Me. - consists of some five million steps, and Bryson (Notes from a Small Island, 1996, etc.) seems to coax a laugh, and often an unexpectedly startling insight, out of each one he traverses. It's not all yuks - though it is hard not to grin idiotically through all 288 pages - for Bryson is a talented portraitist of place. He did his natural-history homework, which is to say he knows a jack-o-lantern mushroom from a hellbender salamander from a purple wartyback mussel, and can also write seriously about the devastation of chestnut blight. He laces his narrative with gobbets of trail history and local trivia, and he makes real the "strange and palpable menace" of the dark deep woods in which he sojourns, the rough-hewn trailscape "mostly high up on the hills, over lonely ridges and forgotten hollows that no one has ever used or coveted," celebrating as well the "low-level ecstasy" of finding a book left thoughtfully at a trail shelter, or a broom with which to sweep out the shelter's dross. Yet humor is where the book finds its cues - from Bryson's frequent trail companion, the obese and slothful Katz, a spacious target for Bryson's sly wit, to moments of cruel and infantile laughs, as when he picks mercilessly on the witless woman who, admittedly, ruined a couple of their days. But for the most part the humor is bright sarcasm, flashing with drollery and intelligence, even when it's a far yodel from political sensitivity. Then Bryson will take your breath away with a trenchant critique of the irredeemably vulgar vernacular strip that characterizes many American downtowns, or of other signs of decay he encounters off the trail (though the trail itself he comes to love). "Walking is what we did," Bryson states: 800-plus out of the 2,100-plus miles, and that good sliver is sheer comic travel entertainment. (Kirkus Reviews)

Flap copy

God only knows what possessed Bill Bryson, a reluctant adventurer if ever there was one, to undertake a gruelling hike along the world's longest continuous footpath--The Appalachian Trail. The 2,000-plus-mile trail winds through 14 states, stretching along the east coast of the United States, from Georgia to Maine. It snakes through some of the wildest and most spectacular landscapes in North America, as well as through some of its most poverty-stricken and primitive backwoods areas. With his offbeat sensibility, his eye for the absurd, and his laugh-out-loud sense of humour, Bryson recounts his confrontations with nature at its most uncompromising over his five-month journey. An instant classic, riotously funny, "A Walk in the Woods will add a whole new audience to the legions of Bill Bryson fans.