stupid american

Another Reason to Hate Bryson (as if I needed one…) | January 28, 2009

I started writing this article with the understanding that Stephen Katz–lovably obnoxious hiking companion to Bill Bryson in A Walk in the Woods–was a total work of fiction.  I got really mad about it too.

But, I turns out the whole thing remains pretty much true, except Stephen Katz is a pseudonym for Matt Angerer.  He lives in Des Moines, and while he’s not crazy about his portrayal in A Walk in the Woods, he admits it’s pretty accurate.

I still don’t like Bill Bryson though.



  1. How did you get the impression that Katz was a fictional character? I thought Bryson explicity stated in the book that Katz wasn’t the guy’s actual name.

    Also, what’s with the Bryson hate? I’ll admit he can get a little (read: a lot) preachy (preachey?) in A Walk in the Woods, but it was entertaining otherwise. I read Brief History too and thought he did alright with some fairly dry stuff, though the scope was beyond ridiculous even for a 400+ page book.

    Enlighten me, biziam.

    Also, digging the new theme. (I usually get this in my RSS reader)

    Comment by chrestme — January 29, 2009 @ 10:01 am

  2. Someone just told me the guy was made up. It made me mad. So I wanted to officially learn that. But they were just wrong.

    But really, this is why I hate him: Dude, if you don’t want to hike the AT, then quit it. But don’t write a whole book whining about it. I also was bitter about the preachy bits. Mostly though, he just struck me as a whimp the entire time. Granted, I never tried to thru-hike, but I still feel inclined to judge.

    Comment by biziam — January 29, 2009 @ 7:29 pm

  3. Have you read any other books by Bill Bryson?

    The Thunderbolt Kid is fantastic and sooooo funny!

    Comment by lisainluik — April 22, 2009 @ 4:26 pm

  4. Hey stupid America /biziam.. Bryson always whines – don’t take it personally for the AP… besides, criticising is what intellectuals do and what other intellectuals understand…

    Comment by James — June 19, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

  5. I like Bill Bryson books.

    I really chuckled at parts of “A Walk in the Woods”. I also enjoyed his “Brief History …” too.


    Comment by Chris — September 28, 2009 @ 3:40 am

  6. wow. there were some really malicious comments on here. um… sorry bryson fans. i don’t really dig him, but i don’t hate you for liking him or whatever.

    Comment by biziam — October 18, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  7. Wow biziam, the only whining i’m hearing is from you…….maybe you shouldn’t read his books…… instead of creating this to WHINE about bill bryson WHINING…..

    Comment by ziva — July 22, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

  8. Weid that this post has just been added to because I just started the Thunderbolt Kid last night after a year off from Bryson.. It’s pretty funny so far.

    Comment by James — July 22, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

  9. I am listening to the audio version of A Walk In The Woods and I have to say that I find it immesurably entertaining!

    Comment by Catherine Tiberia Moretti — August 3, 2010 @ 10:39 pm

  10. Hi Biziam,

    How did you find out the real name for Stephen Katz. I’ve always wondered what his real name was. And thanks for posting how Matt Angerer feels about his portrayal in the book. I just finished “The Thunderbolt Kid” and he makes a similar reference in the book about Angerer’s opinion and the fact the name is a psuedonym. Thanks, Ray

    Comment by Ray — August 16, 2010 @ 11:38 am

  11. Don’t hate Bill Bryson. Sure he whined, but mostly it was about his anger over the urbanization of America, not by the trail. He admitted in the book to loving the AT.

    Comment by W A Fagan — September 3, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  12. Okay I just started to look into this Steven katz thing, cause mostly I could have cared less. I do however understand a little the dislike for the writer. I myself loved a walk in the woods and want very much to read the other books Bryson has written. Although the book is a little boring after the break its still a good book. I find that if I am to blame anyone for things I don’t like about the book, I’ll blame Bryon’s editor.

    Comment by Raz — February 10, 2011 @ 3:14 am

  13. I still think that “A Walk In The Woods” is a great book!

    Comment by Catherine Tiberia Moretti — February 14, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

  14. Shut up people like you just don’t like anything and have to bitch about everything as you obviously have no talent of your own. He is a brilliant author and has written many fine books.
    If you don’t like someone just don’t read his stuff and shut the fuck up.

    PS. You are an ugly twat as well.

    Comment by Anonymous — August 3, 2011 @ 5:44 am

  15. bryson sucks, the A.T. RULES

    Comment by GUSS THE A.T. SNOB — October 6, 2011 @ 12:03 am

  16. This lady is an idiot and needs to read more of his work before being soo judgmental. Dumbass

    Comment by Anonymous — November 22, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  17. Small criteria for disliking someone – especially given that you misunderstood something that Bryson clearly stated in the book: Katz was an old friend from his childhood. How could someone miss that? Plus it’s common knowledge that Katz is a pseudonym. He gives quite a bit of detail about Katz and their past escapades and their having taken different paths in later life -therefore, obviously, Katz is real. That said, Bryson is a great author. And the only things he “preaches” about are things that should be preached about…but hey, if you think things like scientists dumping drums of poison into wilderness streams, etc. shouldn’t be discussed and brought to people’s attention, then I guess you’re part of the problem anyway.

    Comment by Zoso's Montreux — July 14, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

  18. I love Bryson and all his books! Keep writing Bill.

    Comment by nnally — October 28, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

  19. Still read it, didn’t you. A touch of jealousy from a nobody failed writer, perhaps? If you think what he does is easy, why don’t you do it? Betcha wouldn’t know where to even start. You’re bitching about a very talented writer who has given pleasure to far more people than you ever have or will. Maybe he would bitch about you, if he (or anybody else apart from the relatives who doubtlessly dread your whining sourfaced presence at Christmas) had ever heard of you that is. Pthurrrp!!!

    Comment by Bingo Little — February 3, 2013 @ 4:02 am

  20. So, some folks apparently don’t like Bryson’s environmental comments. Just ignore them, like lots of irresponsible and corrupt elected and appointed officials keep doing. Simply pretend that everything is wonderful.

    Yeah, THAT’LL get us out of trouble.

    I found “A Walk in the Woods” entertaining, sobering and a lot of Bryson putting himself out there as someone who was unprepared for his ambitious goal– not so different than many other folks.

    Comment by Mark Schmerling — July 11, 2015 @ 10:53 am

  21. I thought the preachy parts (if by “preachy”, you mean the sections where he digresses to discuss the lack of care given to nature by both everyday people and the Park Service itself) were fascinating and made me want to research what the Park Service does with its money and time now, in 2015. And the historical information he included pertaining to the nature and process of making the AT really happen was equally interesting.

    I also think it’s admirable that even through writing his book, he didn’t claim to have hiked the entire trail. He admitted he didn’t but still wanted to see as much as he could, and that’s perfectly fine in my book. He complained a bit at the beginning, but he was ill prepared in that sense. Soon after, he discovers how much he loves it out there. I wouldn’t consider it “whining”. At least he’s still appreciating the nature and isn’t being your typical “Reebok hiker” as he puts it.

    Comment by Emily — August 9, 2015 @ 1:19 pm

  22. You’re a dick.

    Comment by Chas — April 30, 2016 @ 6:57 pm

  23. Love Bill Bryson and his writing. I re-read his books for pure pleasure and a good laugh. A Sunburned Country is his best in my opinion. Most entertaining author I can name.

    Comment by george — May 7, 2016 @ 10:49 am

  24. Love Bill Bryson. I too re-read his books as a great way to relax and have a good laugh. The Road to Little Dribbling is well worh reading and will give you some good laughs.

    Comment by George Dodd — September 7, 2016 @ 4:08 pm

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