Bill Bryson vs Pico Iyer

I must have first read Pico Iyer about 20 years ago when he started writing for Time magazine and quickly emerged as one of the first, “hip” voices of the new global village – a young man of Indian descent, raised in Europe, working in America and wandering the globe. His first book, Video Night in Kathmandu was a great read. Falling Off The Map was fun too. I went on to read all his other books. By the time I got to Global Soul, I could not finish the book. Pico has lost it for me. Maybe it has to do with growing older – both of us have aged. The older I get, the more sensitive I get to “pretension”, an affliction that I believe has crept upon Mr Iyer over the years.

The good Bill on the other hand shoots straight. Anybody who starts a book with the sentence “I come from Des Moines; someone had to” is a writer after my middle-aged heart. By the time I finished reading A Walk in the Woods, Bill was my man. Look at it this way. How many of us can walk for months on end through dense woods with only a childhood (mildly imbecile) friend for company, have human conversation not exceeding an average of 2o words per day during this entire time and end up writing a deeply engrossing, 300 page travel book about it? If you like travel writing and have not read any of Bryson’s works, it is time to panic.

Incidentally, here is a great video that shows a miffed Brit ranting against Bill Bryson – as you can see, he evokes passion…

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3 thoughts on “Bill Bryson vs Pico Iyer

  1. Pirano – thanks for that link; had not seen it earlier. I saw in the interview that he has panned The Global Soul, which was a difficult read for me. Maybe you are right – pretension is not the right word.

  2. Oh, I love Bryson. I was reading his ‘Down Under’ on a road trip across ‘the great ocean road’ in the southern tip of Australia. He has a way with words indeed – to the point, wry, and just so funny. Have not laughed so much since the last Gerald Durrell I read. His take on the game of cricket is hilarious. At last a thinking American! I recommend his ‘Lost Continent’ to all mall loving, burger chewing , coke guzzling urban smarties.

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