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Old Aug 8th 2017, 4:35 pm   #1
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Default "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

Anyone read and liked, or loved Bill BRYSON'S book about Australia....
"Down Under"

An authentic travel diary - extremely funny and full of genuine quality information and clever insights...
Totally unclassifiable. One of my very favorite books.

The title in French is very good too:

"Nos voisins du dessous"
Which means "our downstairs neighours"
1. They look familiar, but make no mistake.
2. They live below... the planet.

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Old Aug 9th 2017, 9:27 am   #2
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

Loved it, and I know of schools in Australia that assign it as a text in English.
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Old Aug 9th 2017, 12:08 pm   #3
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

I have it in my home book shelf. To be honest found it a little 'light weight' and predictable. Perhaps have been too over exposed to numerous books on the same theme over the years.
I far preferred his initial observations in England.
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Old Aug 9th 2017, 12:14 pm   #4
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

Woaw. Thanks, Carcajou! Do you, by any chance, remember how old were the students.
Just curious. But I think it is fantastic to assign it as a text in schools.

This book shows how to open eyes on the world, be reflexive, travel around and .. is so funny.
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Old Aug 9th 2017, 12:23 pm   #5
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

Hello troubadour.

Aww.. maybe because you knew Australia, already. I didn't know a thing from Australia when I read the book, and reading this book was a real journey for me.

"I far preferred his initial observations in England"

I would be SO interested about that. I didn't have a chance to read his book whose title in french is... "des corn flakes dans le porridge", (Notes from a Small Island).

if you have a chance, could you share one or two observations from this book. I need to read this anyways.
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Old Aug 9th 2017, 1:41 pm   #6
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

Upper years of high school.
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Old Aug 9th 2017, 2:22 pm   #7
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

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I have it in my home book shelf. To be honest found it a little 'light weight' and predictable. Perhaps have been too over exposed to numerous books on the same theme over the years.
I far preferred his initial observations in England.
I agree, having read most of his books with the Australia one being read toward the end it was all a little to predictable. The 'Walk in the Woods' movie was even lightweight despite the star cast.

Still I do enjoy Bill Bryson and love this clip great for homesickness,since we are on an Expat website:

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Old Aug 9th 2017, 2:32 pm   #8
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

It's entertaining and has some laugh out loud moments but I wouldn't say it held quality information or clever insights. I've got about 10 of his books, didn't realise until recently how many more he written. My daughter has them all on her Kindle, maybe I'll borrow it to read the more recent ones.
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Old Aug 9th 2017, 5:27 pm   #9
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

Hello Moneypenny

Aww, now either you're being a bit too severe, or your 2 smart fo mey...
Seing your signature, I'd obvioulsly incline for the latter
What would be your favourite kind of book?

Thank you for the video, Vikingsail. I am in Devon right now, and it speaks to my heart.

Regarding "predictability", I am trying to understand. It certainly wasn't predictable to me as I went from surprise to surprise. But I am french.
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Old Aug 10th 2017, 1:34 am   #10
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

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Hello Moneypenny

Aww, now either you're being a bit too severe, or your 2 smart fo mey...
Seing your signature, I'd obvioulsly incline for the latter
What would be your favourite kind of book?

Thank you for the video, Vikingsail. I am in Devon right now, and it speaks to my heart.

Regarding "predictability", I am trying to understand. It certainly wasn't predictable to me as I went from surprise to surprise. But I am french.
Not being severe or smart really. Just a personal opinion from reading the book and living here. Don't think I have a favourite genre. I'll read pretty much anything and everything. Love books.
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Old Aug 10th 2017, 1:54 am   #11
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

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Not being severe or smart really. Just a personal opinion from reading the book and living here. Don't think I have a favourite genre. I'll read pretty much anything and everything. Love books.
I think living here changed my view of the book. I first read it before emigrating, very much with rose-tinted specs on, and loved it. Once I'd been living here a while much of it just seemed mundane rather than exciting as it described so much of what is normal life here. Equally a lot of it now grates on me as I don't particularly like Australia so I can't see things in the same light that he does.
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Old Aug 10th 2017, 4:59 am   #12
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

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Hello troubadour.

Aww.. maybe because you knew Australia, already. I didn't know a thing from Australia when I read the book, and reading this book was a real journey for me.

"I far preferred his initial observations in England"

I would be SO interested about that. I didn't have a chance to read his book whose title in french is... "des corn flakes dans le porridge", (Notes from a Small Island).

if you have a chance, could you share one or two observations from this book. I need to read this anyways.
So you never visited any of the Aussie bar establishments in Paris? There were at least three when I lived there in the 90s.
Anyway back to his Aussie book. To my mind it appeared somewhat hurried in content, reflective certainly not being a word that jumped to mind. In fact more tedious with observations not too far removed from a host of other UK/American writers on Australia. Perhaps because in part there isn't a lot of depth to write about and the route covered is much of a muchness by many so inclined authors.


Saying that I found he didn't begin to uncover ' the soul' of the country, if indeed such a term can be used.
I guess I'm not such a fan of his writing these days anyway, but to my thinking, Down Under was especially poor in style and appeared again IMO to labour at completing enough pages to fulfil publisher requirements.
His earlier 'Notes From A Small Island' was more that of a novice and fish out of water type genre, written when he was a young man, new to the travel game, as such perhaps of some interest to others in his then position of finding their feet in the somewhat strange land across the channel.


AS far as trave writers go I far prefer Theroux, another American, but far more cynic in style and content and who writes a lot on train travel in very remote and more of the grid places. He also done one on UK. A country he once lived in, but unlike Bryson, never had much of a love for.
His UK contribution was called 'A Small Kingdom By The Sea' Far preferred his African/South American/Far East books though.

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Old Aug 10th 2017, 5:02 am   #13
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

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I agree, having read most of his books with the Australia one being read toward the end it was all a little to predictable. The 'Walk in the Woods' movie was even lightweight despite the star cast.

Still I do enjoy Bill Bryson and love this clip great for homesickness,since we are on an Expat website:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jateuSygnPM
It almost as if he has to meet publishers deadlines and hurries his latter books somewhat. Or is he just too rich and lazy to care much?
Name alone guaranteeing decent sales.
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Old Aug 10th 2017, 10:10 pm   #14
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

All right, all. I looked for this book of Theroux, and here is what I found:
"Oh Paul Theroux, why must you be so grouchy? I mean, you're traveling around England, one of the best countries on earth! Where's the joy? Where's the love? Where's the gratitude?".
Well this is it. Bryson is not that kind of guy. What I liked about him probably: his LACK of cynism, his LOTS of humour.

Reflexive.
His book has to be reflexive or I would not have this feeling the book reflects the Australia frame of mind. A good, reflexive depiction of a country, is, to my opinion, Jean Baudrillard's book "Amerique". It shows how the space where you live (and what a space in Australia, and what a space description in "Amerique") is basically shaping your mind, or say, the way you see things.

Bryson didn't strike a pose or made a big deal about it, but it tells it all.

The Aussie places in Paris.
Well, now it would be quite a shallow way to get to know Australia I suppose. I was in Newquay (Cornwall), though. It looks like the "surburbs of Australia"... So many australian surfers.. As a french, I can tell there is an accent, I can tell there is a slight difference of attitude, It didn't teel me as much as Bryson's book about Australia.

Excuse my french. L'art est difficile, mais la critique l'est un peu également, si on veut argumenter son point de vue de façon convaincante.

I am a little embarassed with this conversation, as they say "Art is difficult.."
But criticism can be difficult, too if you really want to develop and illustrate your point.
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Old Aug 11th 2017, 12:33 am   #15
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Default Re: "DOWN UNDER" this excellent book about Australia

Speaking for myself, I far prefer a warts all account than something akin to a faux display of positivity to often displayed on a Facebook entry where negativity is hidden.


The reason I mentioned Australian café/pubs in Paris was not for the depth of such establishments, just that you mentioned you knew nothing about Australia.
A natural port of call perhaps on the odd occasion for anyone with a flicker of interest?
More than half the clientele would have been French, rest coming from an assortment of nations, but lots of Australiana around, including Aussie accents with differing degrees of poor French vocab, but more than happy enough to 'big up Australia' and give an insight.


AS they say, art is whatever you can get away with. To critique is to look at all angles, shape and forms of a particular subject matter.


I did not find the book 'reflective ' to my mind, rather clichéd and I for one do enjoy reading the observations of an outsider on a visiting country. But while Bryson may find amusement from novice potential travellers to Australia, he fails IMO, to reveal much beyond the clichéd, regurgitated writings of numerous travel writers.


An interesting fact about Australia, a nation known for its space, is the fact that it is one of the most, if not the most urbanised nations in the world. The average Australian lives in an increasingly cramped/congested/expensive city, with assorted traffic and other society problems and may just as likely never experienced the outback.
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