why did bill bryson accept such an unlikly companion as Spephen Katz? would he have been better or worse without him? what is significant about their relationship and friendship?

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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We can find out the answer to this question exactly, as the author of 'A Walk In The Woods' Bill Bryson, tells his readers himself. In a Random House interview he explains how he loves walking and hiking, but is used to the gentler, more populous scenery of Europe. The reason this matters is that in many parts of these countries, pretty villages and noteworthy landmarks are relatively close to one another - near enough to walk from one to the other in a day for example.  Even better, hot feet and sore muscles can be soothed by the guarantee of a hot bath and a beer in a quaint bar at the end of the day.These famous walks are safe enough to enjoy without a companion, but as Bryson tells us, it is a different ballgame hiking in the Appalachian mountains!

Bryson realised he would need a companion to help him out - for many reasons. First of all, remote mountain hiking often involves camping as civilisation can often be a long way away. This is a hobby the author had never undertaken before - he had never even pitched a tent let alone struck a base camp. It was also a good idea to take a companion for safety reasons - in case of accidents, emergencies or ill health. However, Bill Bryson explains that it didn't have to be Katz. In fact it was the other way round - Katz chose him! He is very grateful to Katz for being willing to accompany him and for teaching him what he needed to know for survival in remote mountain country. The experience has not put him off camping apparently and he hopes to plan more trips soon. However, Bryson is worried that our opportunities for taking part in such fun, free fresh air activities might be under threat as the environment is encroached upon more and more by shopping malls and logging industries. Hopefully the humour and drama in the novel will raise awareness of these issues among ordinary people.

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