I'm sure many of you have heard of him, and some of you have read his books. A Walk In The Woods and A Short History of Nearly Everything are both quite popular, and although I haven't read either of them, Bryson's been on my "To Read" list for quite a while.
The other day I was wandering around a Barnes, with good intentions to pick up A Walk In The Woods and give it a go. But instead I found a collection of columns he wrote after moving back to the United States after having lived in England for twenty years, called, I'm A Stranger Here Myself.
While I fully intend to read Woods someday, I think I made the right choice with this purchase, because, only sixteen pages in, Bryson's already soared to hero status on my list, and I can't wait to read more.
In one of his columns he talks about how there's only one thing to watch on latenight TV in England, when returning home from the pub after six pints of beer...that being a lecture series called Open University.
And he goes on to mention the variety of viewing options on American television at all hours of the night, including (and I'm quoting directly here, though I hardly feel the need to clarify that, because there's no way you'd believe I made these words up myself) "...a small selection of movies on the premium movie channels mainly involving nubile actresses disporting in the altogether."
Go back and read that again.
Disporting in the altogether??
Come on now! How do people invent such phrases? In the context of the sentence, it's easy to decipher what he's saying, but...doesn't that sound infinitely more poetic than, "a bunch of hotties runnin' around nekkid on Skin-emax"?
(and yes...I immediately ran to my dictionary and looked up the word "disport.")
A couple pages later, he's out to eat at a fancy restaurant, listening to the waiter rattle off the specials for the evening. As he finds himself unable to understand any of the entrées being described, he turns and asks, "Do you have anything that once belonged to a cow?"
Seriously. Hero. A top-shelfer for sure.
"More than 300 million people in the world
speak English, and the rest,
it sometimes seems, try to."