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Vitamin Q: the book!

~ Saturday, February 08, 2003

The Bryson Effect is a sociological phenomonon concerning personal discomfort felt through the realisation that something once believed or admired is actually sham. Lapsed Catholics know The Bryson Effect. Those who read books by Carlos Castaneda and thought there really might be a Mexican wizard who thought a hippie student made the perfect apprentice know it too. But the real con kings are travel writers and, as we all recall just where we were when (fill in tragic but secretly thrilling event of your choice) happened, everyone has encountered, or will do, that moment in a book when Bill Bryson lumbers beardily into our own home town or territory, invents random facts to suit his scattergun humour, ventures no further than 200 yards from the hotel, conjures up stereotypical characters-he-has-endured when he was in fact reading the 'funnies' in the Herald Tribune while grazing on the local pastry speciality and sweet tea, and suddenly we realise that from "I come from Des Moines. Somebody has to." onwards, his traveloguing has been one long giggle-shafted shyster-yarn. Shame, since he was once a nib of note and was an excellent pop linguistics writer. Get back to Iowa now Billy-o! We've nabbed you!

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