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Bryson about town

By David Charlesworth

bill brysonPerth Convention Centre’s Riverside Theatre rippled with laughter on March 19 as bestselling author Bill Bryson shared stories of his varied life and career to a captivated audience.

Part of his “Many a True Word” tour around Australia, Bryson was interviewed by TV personality Ray Martin about everything from his childhood, his books and what’s next.

An interesting flavour to the night was artist Brett Bower punctuating the stories with sand drawings.

He crafted the images in sand reflecting the topics as Bryson and Martin spoke, which were projected above them.

UK based Bryson described his time growing up in Des Moines, Iowa and the part his father played in his career.

He credits his father for his writing ability and humour, who was a sports journalist and crafter of terrible but funny puns.

On a family trip to the San Andreas Fault, his father flipped a coin in, saying he always wanted to be known as being ‘generous to a fault.’

In talking about his books, Bryson spoke of his curiosity and the part his love of the research played.

“I’ve learned how to make a living from my curiosity,” he said.

“The part that feels fun is the going to the library and doing the research”.

Video comments from Bryson’s friends were shown, including Nobel laureate Sir Paul Nurse, Australian of the Year Tim Flannery and his son, David.

Bryson enjoyed his recent Chancellorship with the University of Durham and spoke of how he was still a bit confused as to what the position was.

“It’s a lot like a bidet, nobody knows what they’re for but they’re pleased to have one,” he said.

At the end of the night, Bryson answered questions from the audience which ranged from his favourite place in Australia (Uluru), and places he would never visit again (Hammerfest, Norway).

For his next literally adventure, he is planning on doing more in travel and science, one on the UK and another on the human body.

Bryson’s life and career fascinated the audience and delighted them in his ability to find humour in everything including himself.

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