Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Books I've read in 2007, part 4
Bill Bryson is one of my favorite writers. He's a linguist and a travel writer; I guess his most famous book is "A Walk in the Wooods" which is an account of his attempt to walk the entire 2,174 mile-long Appalachian Trail, but all of his books are good. Here he talks about growing up in Iowa in the 50s. Nothing much happens, he has a paper route, he loves to read comic books, and every year at the state fair he tries to get into the strip show -- but Bryson is such a great stylist that it's always fun to read, no matter what he's writing about.
Here he talks about candy:
"Perhaps nothing says more about the modest range of pleasures of the age than that the most popular candies of my childhoood were made of wax. You could choose among wax teeth, wax pop bottles, wax barrels, and wax skulls, each filled with a small amount of colored liquid that tasted very like a small dose of cough syrup. You swallowed this with interest if not exactly gratification, then chewed the wax for the next ten or eleven hours. Now you might think there is something wrong with your concept of pleasure when you find yourself paying real money to chew colorless wax, and you would be right of course. But we did it and enjoyed it because we knew no better. And there was, it must be said, something good, something healthily restrained, about eating a product that had neither flavor nor nutritive value."