Best of the Book Nook: In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson

Oct 6, 2017

Every writer fantasizes about writing a book that finds a massive readership. A book that sells and sells. A book that perches atop best seller lists for months or even years. For Bill Bryson that book was "A Walk in the Woods." This whimsical travel story which recounts Bryson's adventures hiking the Appalachian Trail with his buddy Steven Katz sold millions of copies. It made Bryson's career.

The author has written many other books-none of them have put up the gargantuan sales figures that one did. When "A Walk in the Woods" came out I tried to obtain another interview with him. He had been on the show a few years before. His publicist told me that Bryson was in Australia doing the research for the book that would eventually become "In a Sunburned Country." I really wanted to talk about "A Walk in the Woods." It had not become a best-seller yet. So I did the next best thing, I contacted the man known in that book as "Steven Katz." The name is a pseudonym. His name is actually Matthew Angerer and I have known Matt since we were teenagers. So I called him up and we did a live interview on WYSO.

When "In a Sunburned Country" was published Bryson went through Dayton on book tour and he came out to Yellow Springs to talk about that book. When he arrived it became clear that he did not recall being on the program before. I didn't actually ask him if he remembered because I was planning a big surprise. During the course of this entertaining interview about the writer's experiences in Australia I sprang it; I had the cassette of the interview with Katz queued up and ready to play. And suffice it to say that Bill Bryson was quite surprised.

The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by five local library systems in southwest Ohio: the Greene County Public Library,  Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.