Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Land of Two Halves

Joe Bennett is an award-winning New Zealand columnist and this is his book about travelling around New Zealand. Things I like about him include his empathy with people and his willingness to sleep in shitty motels in order to save a bit of cash. I like the fact that he's happy to stand around by the side of the road for hours on end while hitching. And the fact that he's written a book about the bits of New Zealand that a lot of tourists don't get to see or spend time in, because they don't hitch around, so they tend to avoid the towns for the most part.

I also like the fact that he loves dogs so much and talks about his commitment to his dog as a serious thing. He would not dream of leaving New Zealand for home (Britain) until his dog died, and he looks forward to the end of his trip and getting back to his dog.

What I don't like about him is that he either is (or pretends to be for the sake of novelty, which is worse) fairly indifferent to the natural wonders of NZ. It's fair enough to be more interested in the people, but to say that you are bored with looking at the views around Queenstown after five minutes is either untrue or it shows you up as, well, a little suspect, frankly.

He also seems to think it's okay for him to litter; he mentions more than once dropping multiple cigarette butts on the ground or throwing things away by the side of the road, of which I sniffily disapprove.

And finally, I just don't think he's that funny. I get where he's supposed to be funny, but I just don't think he is. Not really the book for me, but I thank Columbo for it anyway.

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