am 15. August 2005
... would be the perfect word to describe Neither Here Nor There. After having read A Short History of Nearly Everything, I had high expectations and was very disappointed. I think everybody has their right to share their own opinion about anything, but does a more or less famous author have to be so shortsighted and full of clichees just for the sake of a cheap joke? (though I must admit, sometimes I could not keep from laughing either...) Or does he really believe in all the clichees he writes about? Some of the many things I couldn't quite follow: How could you cry about a $2 entrance fee for a museum and pay some $100 for a hotel room without any further comment? How can one be proud of not knowing anything at all about a country's language or culture (except that one has - seemingly single-handedly - saved it in WWII)? As far as he describes how badly he had been treated as a tourist - In my opinion, he had been treated just as he had deserved to be treated.
I have been to many countries mentioned in the book and almost always had a better time. Summary: If you want a cheap laugh - and not much else - recommendable. If not, not.
am 20. Juni 2005
After reading "Notes from a Big Country",(probably one of the funniest books I've ever read - a must-read for any European who has travelled the US!), I was ecstatic, ready to get my hands on anything Bryson has ever written.
But what a letdown this one was!
It started out okay, I had a few laughs in the beginning, but in the course of his journey, he seems to be getting tired, and, boy,does it show! Just a long list of checking in and out of hotels in different European cities, eating at mediocre restaurants with unfriendly waiters, you hardly learn anything about the places he went to, or the people (well, neither did he apparently...)
Every now and then he leaves the plot to tell some anecdote, that's when his usual humour shows up again, but just for that, you don't have to read the whole book.
And what's that personal revenge thing, he's got going with the Germans and Austrians, and the dark episode in our history!? Yes, it was terrible, and shall never be forgotten, but cool it, man!!
Well, he lives in England, that might explain some of it;-)
am 9. März 2006
This book helps to justify the European prejudice of the dumb and uninformed average American! BB travels through Europe but only to see proof of his many prejudices, mainly of the Germans. As a German reader, I must admit, I could not laugh! And I do not understand why some German publisher would even make the effort of translating and publishing the book for the German market.
Here are some examples of BB's cliches:
Aachen: "In the evening I went looking for a restaurant. This is often a problem in Germany. For one thing, there's a good chance that there will be three guys in lederhosen playing polka music, so you have to look carefully through the windows and question the proprietor closely to make sure that Willi and the Bavarian Boys won't suddenly bound onto a little stage at half-past eight, because there is nothting worse than being just about to tuck into your dinner, a good book propped in front of you, and finding yourself surrounded by ruddy-faced Germans waving beer steins and singing the 'Horst-Wessel-Lied' for all they're worth."
This is so bad! It is just ridiculous to write about it! Everything from Willi and the Bavarian Boys to the polka and the Horst-Wessel-Lied. BB has watched too many American and English movies full of German Nazis and mixed up fact and fiction.
One sentence later: "I went up to six or eight places and studied the menus by the door but they were all full of foods with ominous Germanic names - Schweinensnout mit Spittle und Grit, Ramsintestines und Oder Grosser Stuff, that sort of thing."
Excuse me, Mr. Bryson, but what is that supposed to mean? It certainly isn't German! I don't know if it sounds Germanic, but it does not appear on a German menu.
Cologne central station: "It would never occur to her to conclude that I was a foreign visitor who didn't know the drill and say to me in a pleasant voice, 'Coffee, mein Liebschen?' or even just signal to me that I should step to the counter. No, I was breaking a rule and for this I had to be ignored. This is the worst characteristic of the Germans. Well, actually a prediction for starting land wars in Europe is their worst characteristic, but this is up there with it."
He goes on then to describe the German print media by giving a very detailed description of the magazine 'Neue Review' (his spelling). It says something of the author that he doesn't bother with Spiegel, Stern, Focus or the like but gives a fascinated summary of a cheap sex magazine.
I really think that it is so bad that I do not need to comment on this. This is the first time that I read an American/English book and actually felt insulted by it. And I must stress that I do read many American/English books and that I do not think of myself as a patriot. But dumb cliches like these can really drive you in the arms of patriotism!
am 18. September 2000
Unfortunately this book is not funny. It is not even entertaining. And it is not a travel book at all. It is a contribution to intolerance and prejudice.
I wonder how can be one so superficial, narrow-minded and intolerant! Bill Bryson should think about the difference between a traveller and a tourist. Why do people travel? Probably because they want to experience new cultures and the best way to do it is doing it in an open-minded and sensitive way.
But BB did not. He seemed to hunt for negative things only in the most prejudicing way. And he was on a hunt through Europe! Travelling is about SPENDING TIME instead of rushing from one place to another. Travelling is also about TALKING TO PEOPLE instead of reading books in restaurants and other places.
I hope that Americans visiting Europe are not biased by this intolerant point of view and hopefully enjoy the diversity of Europe.
I also hope that BB stays at home in the future instead of throwing 'Travel books' on the market (isn't there a recent one about Australia - well-timed to the Olympics?)
I read "A walk in the woods" before and really enjoyed Bryson's book on travels along a hike in the USA. I liked his humor and his insights so I was quite looking forward to this one, about his travels in Europe, in which he tries to recapture his experiences as a young man and compare them to way he sees Europe now. There are too many stereotypes and clichés in this bool to make it really enjoyable. Travelling should broaden the horizion but this trip clearly doesn't. Bryson goes for the cheap shots and below the belt this one, and at times I felt the book was quite annoying. What on earth compelled him to write sentences like the one where he expected ruddy-faced German to sing the Horst-Wessel-Song in a German bar? This is just one the few examples where he obviously goes overboard in order to get cheap laugh---or the manic busdriver in former Yugoslavia, and so on and so on.
I think Bryson is an excellent writer when he puts his mind to it, but maybe he was under pressure to fulfil some obligations to the book-publishing company to bring in a book before a deadline. That is the best excuse I can make up for him. Try "A walk in the woods", it is so much better.
am 17. Februar 2000
When a prejudiced guy goes abroad to nourish his prejudices, it begets a book full of clichés. Sure, BB is subtle enough not to let us in on his preconceived judgements, but he definitely carries a bagful of them. The book even lost its (claimed) humor on me because, as an European, I've been familiar with all those commonplaces in ages. "Neither Here Nor There" is so shallow that it has almost nothing to do with what Europe is about. Indeed, BB should stick to his English teaching knack.
am 14. Mai 2000
I didn't like it. It is the first book of Bill Bryson's I have read, and probably won't read another one. I have also traveled extensively in Europe, and similiar to Bryson, never planned my hotels, etc. But while I always have a good time, he just seems to dislike everything. It depressed me to picture him traveling through Europe, being that negative. Skip this book, and read an intelligent and interesting travel book, like something by David Hatcher Childress.
am 4. Mai 2000
As a fan of the other Bill Bryson books, I was disappointed by this one. It really appeared to me that Bryson took this trip because he wanted to relive the wonder of his first youthful European trak without really realizing how much he had changed. He still offers funny anecdotes but he clearly did not connect with many Europeans and his sarcasm was not tempered with much genuine enjoyment of his experience. I would have been just as happy for him to have spent his summer in England with his family and simply used his extraordinary ability to tell stories about his daily life!
am 5. Juni 2007
Unfortunately the book is such a collection of old stereotypes, which makes me wonder whether Bill actually visited the countries he describes.
I do believe that it is time that Mr. Bryson revisited his subject "Neither Here Nor There:: Travels in Europe".
Many things have changed in Europe. This is being shown by the increasingly bad ratings his book is receiving now.
am 15. April 2013
Mich hat Bill Bryson's "Neither here, nor there" enttäuscht. Nachdem ich "Eine kurze Geschichte von fast Allem" sehr unterhaltsam fand, habe ich mir seine Reiseerzählung durch Europa ausgeliehen. Gehofft und erwartet hatte ich Skurilitäten, augenzwinkernde Beobachtungen und unterhaltsame Anekdoten - das, was Reisen ja eigentlich ausmacht.
Bill Bryson fährt entlang einer 18 Jahre zuvor schon einmal bereisten Route durch Westeuropa und wundert sich, dass die Zeit nicht stehengeblieben ist. Ist der Anfang noch ganz amüsant, steigt mit zunehmender Dauer des Buches die Schilderung von Klischees. Im Paris-Kapitel betont Bryson noch, dass diese Klischees über die verschiedenen europäischen Nationen ca. 200 Jahre alt und damit eigentlich als Humbug abzutun sind, nur um danach wirklich jede Nation mit ihrem jeweiligen Klischee zu bedenken - Franzosen, arrogant und miese Autofahrer - Deutsche, humorlos und Blasmusik-Fans - Italiener, faul und unfähig irgendetwas zusammenzubauen.
Daneben wird in jeder Stadt rumgejammert, dass die Speisekarten nicht auf Englisch erhätlich sind und die Gastwirte und Hoteliers sogar Geld für ihre Dienstleistungen verlangen - Skandal.
Anekdoten laufen auf die Essenz hinaus "Alle sind doof, ausser ich"
Zusammengefasst: Dieses Buch ist eine Aneinanderreihung der plumpesten Nationalitäten-Klischees, garniert mit der Aussage "Früher war alles besser". Lesen Sie lieber etwas anderes.