Book review

Making a beer holiday seem dull

Teachings from the Tap
Merideth Canham-Nelson
Beer Trekker Press, paperback, $16

You ask me, as a full-time journo, travel stories are bloody hard to write.

That’s why a guy like Bill Bryson gets all that praise – he does a bloody good job of it. He deftly mixes the travel bit in with humour and an eye for quirky yet relevant historical snippets and comes up with something that’s deeply entertaining.
But what most efforts at travel writing do is leave out the humour and the snippets. Then what you end up with is little more than a list of places ‘‘then I went here. Then there. This place was next and then this place’’. It makes for immensely dull reading.Teachings_from_the-tap
Teachings from the Tap is very much like that. Self-published by one-half of the couple at http://www.beergeek.com, it’s basically just a list of breweries and beer-themed events and festivals Merideth Canham-Nelson and hubby Chris went on over the course of a year.
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I’d been desperately seeking out a beer version of Bill Bryson – a travelogue of beer and I thought I’d finally found it. But no. Leaving aside the spelling and grammatical errors, the writing is flat, there is precious little in the way of interesting facts about the breweries they visit and there’s certainly nothing insightful enough to warrant the overblown title
And the repeated gushing about ‘‘how all the brewing people seem to who we are! We’re popular!’’ gets really frigging annoying. Sure, I get surprised that beer people read this blog and know who I am, but jeez, I wouldn’t think anyone else would be the slightest bit interested in hearing about that.
Reading this book is like looking through a collection of snapshots of someone else’s trip. The images bring back a flood of warm memories for the person who took the trip but, for the person who didn’t, they’re just a collection of photos. The images aren’t interesting in and of themselves, the viewer has to be given a reason to care about them.
Just like the reader needs to be given a reason to care about Canham-Nelson’s journey. I’m sure she had fun on it – I just wish it was fun reading about it.

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