Sunday, June 16, 2013

Free Country

Everyone loves a crazy stunt, especially one that's perpetrated and documented by two mostly congenial guys on holiday: in this case, author George Mahood and his cranky friend Ben. Cycling the length of Britain starting without bicycles (to say nothing of money, clothes, food, or a tent) qualifies. Mahood's Free Country is a winning entry in the time-tested "Wry in the Rye" genre, which Jerome K. Jerome founded with his classic, Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), and to which Bill Bryson contributed, entertaining trail-walking wannabes with A Walk in the Woods.

Reading any two consecutive chapters of these English lads' travelogue will put the most hardened cynic in a cheerful mood. My only complaint is the author's repeatedly mocking his own turns of phrase every tenth sentence or so in a flat-tired attempt at cleverness. Other than that, the chain stays on the metaphorical bicycle, so to speak -- unlike the one on the author's sorry two-wheeler.

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