Paul's Reviews > A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
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Jan 24, 10

bookshelves: science

Okay, so here's my Bill Bryson story. I was in The Gladstone, a public house not too far from this very keyboard, with my friend Yvonne, who will remain nameless. We had been imbibing more than freely. A guy approached our table and asked me in a sly surreptitious manner if I was him. Him who? Was I Bill Bryson? Now it is true that I bear a very slight resemblance



but you could also say that about Bjorn from Abba



and a zillion other white guys with beards and gently rounded fizzogs. Anyway, without missing a beat I said yes, I was him. So the guy immediately asked me if I'd sign two of his books, and before I could say "Come on mate, I'm not actually American, can't you bleedin well tell?" he had zapped out of the pub. Only to zap straight back with two hardbacks of Bill's deathless works. What could I do? He opened them up reverentially and told me one would be for him and one for his mother. Friends, I signed them - "Best wishes, your friend Bill Bryson". He was so grateful, so very very pleased. We drank up and got the hell out of there. I look back on this disgraceful incident and shudder. That's the last time I'm impersonating a famous author.


Short note on the book in question:

There was no way our Bill could write a gently humorous book about the history of all of science without sounding like a fairly smirky know-it-all, so that's what he does sound like, which can be just a trifle wearing. LOTS of good info in here, but it's like being forced to live on Indian takeaways and nothing else, great for a while and then GET ME A SANDWICH! Or like being stuck on a long airplane ride with a very garrolous and opinionated fellow who thinks he is the very model of the modern travelling companion, regaling you with insightful and humourous anecdotes by the bucketful while you're wondering if it would be so bad if you faked a heart attack and you could whisper to the flight attendant "I'm okay really but GET ME AWAY FROM THIS GUY!"
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Comments (showing 1-32 of 32) (32 new)

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Books Ring Mah Bell NO! NOOOOOOOOO!


Paul Arf arf.


Paul Yeah kind of. I scampered through the latter chapters, because my eyes kept bouncing off all those numbers. let me open the book at random - page 370 :

"a single bacterial cell can generate 280,000 billion individuals in a given day"

or page 451:

"your cells are a country of 10,000 trillion citizens"

Again, page 516:

" a massive freezing occurred about 2.2 billion years ago, followed by another billion years of warmth"

This is like 14 year old boy writing, all goggle-eyed at lots of Big Numbers.


message 4: by J. (new) - added it

J. Michael Goodness! You DO look like Mr. Bryson. I'd milk it, too. Thanks for the hilarious story.


Paul When I was young and beardless they told me I looked like John Denver. I don't know which is worse.


David I love your story. I'd be worried if you hadn't found the book annoying.


message 7: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker :-D

Although I rather hope that earnest man does not chance upon this review.


Paul Better believe I don't go back to that pub very often and when I do I disguise myself as James Ellroy..


message 9: by Javier (new) - added it

Javier Not to be snarky, but how does a book about science, which is built on top of, or leans heavily upon, mathematics (aka numbers) not have numbers on nearly every page? Your story was humorous, though, and your other comments about his tone seem to make sense from what I have read.


message 10: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Numbers are okay, it's the way Bill beats you up with numbers which ordinary people can't comprehend so the information just turns into a kind of science-flavoured white noise that I objected to.


message 11: by Jenny (new) - added it

Jenny Conatser "Science-flavored white noise" may be the best adjective-noun combo I've ever heard. :)


message 12: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul hah, thanks, I may have t-shirts printed now


Joseph "Slight resemblance"? You're his spittin image, mate.


message 14: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul I have had celebrity re-alignment surgery since then.


Scribble Orca Paul, you are such a shallow b. It was you sitting on the plane wondering whether to fake the heart attack next to the opinionated fellow talking in big numbers, wasn't it?


message 16: by Linda (new)

Linda John Denver would definitely be worse.


message 17: by Velvetink (new) - added it

Velvetink Still don't know what you really look like!


Traveller LOLLOLOL. The Impersonation Story. Hee-hee. My mother used to be mistaken for Joanna Lumley, especially on airplanes. Sometimes she played along a little..

Ha, so you grew a beard not to look like John Denver, and now you look like Bill Bryson AKA Benny Andersson, depending on whether you were a pop fan in the 80's..

Maybe you should wear your hair in a ponytail, or a short military style... XD


message 19: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul yes, imagine how happy I was to turn into Bill Bryson


David Cerruti A Brief History of Pretty Much Everything in 3 minutes 12 seconds.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNYZH9...


message 21: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Georgia liked that one too!


message 22: by Kenny (new) - rated it 1 star

Kenny Bell PLEASE READ* Do you remember when he talked about stromatolites-the ancient rock structure dated from 3.5 billion years ago, made from cynobacteria-blue/green algae. He says the scientist agree that these were the first origins of life. My question is how do scientist know that the rock is the object that is 3.5 billion yrs old and not the organisms? Because the organisms could just have appeared when man first appeared.(Adam and Eve)


message 23: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul they work on hunches.


message 24: by Kenny (new) - rated it 1 star

Kenny Bell what do you mean?


Nicholas Most likely using carbon dating.


message 26: by Dagny (new) - added it

Dagny That is Björn!! Not Benny!! (OK, so I just had to do that)


message 27: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul oh yes, no one has pointed that out yet! I will fix this now!


message 28: by Neil (new) - added it

Neil Great story and review..


message 29: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul thanks Neil - you never know, maybe the books I signed were later sold on ebay.


message 30: by Dustin (new) - added it

Dustin Covert "with my friend Yvonne, who will remain nameless." what??????


message 31: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Well, don't you have a nameless friend called Yvonne?


message 32: by Hyper (new)

Hyper The book in question should undoubtedly be included and conceivably replace at least one text in various subject curricula. As for your "..trifle wearing..." opinion, describes your 'Review' accurately. After your candid offbeat & funny beginning, the "sandwich" definitely presides over the remainder of your useless analogy. Glad you tried to take it on-board & good luck in reviews if you ever accomplish even co-authoring anything,even fractionally as relevant, as this Bryson masterpiece, at all.


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