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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

Average Rating 4
( 566 )
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5 Star

(319)

4 Star

(142)

3 Star

(55)

2 Star

(22)

1 Star

(28)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

19 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

Brilliant one moment, baffling the next

This is an almost brilliant and deeply flawed work, which I nonetheless highly recommend for its humor and wealth of easily-digested historical and environmental information. One of the things that characterizes the absolute pinnacle of comedic achievement is the wi...
This is an almost brilliant and deeply flawed work, which I nonetheless highly recommend for its humor and wealth of easily-digested historical and environmental information. One of the things that characterizes the absolute pinnacle of comedic achievement is the willingness to make any and every sort of spectacle of onesself for a laugh...along with the comedic sensibility to carry it off. Gilda Radner as the girl scout. Carol Burnett wearing the curtain rod. Richard Pryor as himself. Bill Bryson proves as early as page 19 that self-humiliating physical comedy can work even in print. One of the problems with this book, however, is that he gets most of his laughs by similarly humiliating everyone he encounters during his on-again, off-again hike of the Appalachian Trail. He has sadly forgotten another of the hallmarks of comedic genius: laughing with, rather than at, one's felllow human being. Bryson seems to revel in a mean-spiritedness that is all the more disturbing in light of his obvious intelligence and insight. He is talented enough to forgo the cheap shots and, besides, he should know better. I began to understand why his family was afraid of him embarassing them. Another and more baffling problem is Bryson's seeming blindness to the rich experience of the wilderness. He has a sort of generalized awe for the majesty of the forest as a whole, here and there, almost as if he occasionally remembered to take a snapshot. But he so belabors his observation that every stretch of forest is like every other, one tree just like the next, that you can't help wondering, as he very frequently does himself, what he is doing there. I personally find a small miracle every three inches along whatever trail I walk. His failure to do so, and the prohibitions he mentions against leaving the trail, made me repeatedly envision a wall of streaky glass along both sides of the path between him and the forest. Which in turn made me picture the trail eventually coming to resemble a sort of museum of the outdoors. Maybe it already is one. Bryson is certainly honest. He makes no bones about whining and wishing for Big Macs, and his clear inability to enjoy the here-and-now. Yet a wistful tone is audible when he speaks of the destruction of the forests, and he has lovingly gathered and presented such a wealth of environmental and historical facts as to nearly make this book a primer for the budding environmentalist. In the end, Bryson himself becomes as fascinating and frustrating as the trail itself. Why is such an insightful person so insensitive to the forest's small delights, and to his fellow human beings? How can he be so courageous and whiny at the same time? (Good time to mention his sidekick, Katz, who somehow actually manages to pull it off with more aplomb. Maybe because Bryson tore him apart so thoroughly at the beginning that you feel sorry for him forever after.) Despite Bill Bryson's being older than I by a number of years, he seems so like young kids now. So lost without modern 'conveniences,' mainly because that is all they know. And yet, little by little, in this book, you can see the light get in around Bryson's blinders. He begins to find civilization ugly and wish for the forest whenever he leaves it. Which is, all in all, an encouraging message.

posted by Anonymous on March 2, 2000

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Boorish and miserable

Brysons writing talent is substantial as is his boorish hatred for most people. The first few chapters were outstanding but book becomes dark and hurtful when bryson reveals his disdain for southerners and relegion. There are so many more enjoyable reads. Bypass this on...
Brysons writing talent is substantial as is his boorish hatred for most people. The first few chapters were outstanding but book becomes dark and hurtful when bryson reveals his disdain for southerners and relegion. There are so many more enjoyable reads. Bypass this one.

posted by 16915615 on February 5, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2013

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2013

    Titanium and co. BIO

    Titanium~
    <br> Age- 13 moons
    <br> Gender- male
    <br> Looks- dark silvery/grey wolf with steel blue eyes. He is tall, muscular, and hansome
    <br> Personality- really nice~meet him!!! :)
    <br> Mate/Crush- no/ just came
    <br> Pups- wishes for some
    <p> Mist's bio at res30!
    <p> Road's bio at res25
    <p> SunShine's bio at next res
    <p> Coal's bio at res15
    <p> Owl's bio at res17

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    Ashenflame

    She heads back to camp.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    Rosetail

    *stands back up in pain* whats going on?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    Darkclaz

    Padds over the Ashclan border from Honeyclan

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2013

    Moonkit

    Your wings need some thing says moonkit who made to bent angles with her tail magickit from this moment youlll be known as heartkit use your girft wisly heartkits wings now have stars

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2013

    Soaringhawk

    Padded in with Goldenpelt bhind him.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    Spiritheart

    Hears and smells prey. She caught two voles a mouse a fish and a squirrel

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2013

    A kit scent

    Was drenched under a stump, bloodstains everywhere

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    Goldenfleack

    Leaped on the fox's back. Bitting its scruff.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2013

    Snowfall

    Yes thanks i will alway apprecate advice (gtgbbt)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    Ashtail

    Stops short of te border miseribly.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2013

    Maddy

    Waits for harms

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    Darkclaw

    Lets go back to our place we talk bc there some people here....

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2013

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Waste of time

    This was a required reading for school. Sorry I had to spend my money on this. Boring, he has an odd sense of humor that I don't find humorous.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Dawnwillow

    Pads back to camp.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013

    Kestrel

    Wrinkled her nose before padded off to her own den

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    Nightclaw

    Nightclaw hissed at the rouge and got ready to attack. Fireclaw said, " well well well, look at this a warrior whos mate died and who is hopeless in his clan. Nightclaw hissed.

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