Aussie moves to Ireland to be bitten by bed bugs
edited: Thursday, July 10, 2008
By Chris M Dowding
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2008
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A review of Chris Dowding's new book, 'a few Drops short of a Pint' by Lauren Elise Daniels, Prose Editor
a few Drops short of a Pint by Chris Dowding, Winner of Interactive Publications IP Picks 2007 (BEST CREATIVE NON-FICTION)
Three months after their wedding, the speaker and his wife leave familiar comforts—their Australian lives, jobs and families—to embark on a journey which enriches their perspectives and unexpectedly brings a fresh appreciation for home.
"I wasn’t exactly sure why I wanted to go, but I knew Ireland called me. I had been sheltered from life for most of my years. I was born in 1972 and grew up in Redland Bay, a tiny farming village of a few hundred people."
In departing the small town overlooking Moreton Bay and the two-storey house built by his father, the speaker chronicles his experiences as a newlywed, living and working in Dublin as a transformative experience. He writes:
"For me, the reality of travel came as a bit of a shock. I was bitten by bed bugs in hostels, terrified by ‘extreme sports’ bus drivers and shoved out of the way by little old ladies in grocery stores."
Layered with historical sweeps and peppered with research, the intimacy of the memoir is supported by insights into many of the crucial moments of Irish culture, including details surrounding the essential icon:
"Sir Arthur Guinness, the founder, signed a 9000-year lease for the original parcel of land at the bargain price of £45 per annum in 1759."
Dowding’s travel memoir balances keen observations with a good dose of humour:
"The [weather] reporters tended to be upbeat, outgoing types, who strove to put a happy angle on weather that was likely to be cold, wet and briefly sunny on the same day. Reports were couched in vague terms like ‘brightening rainy weather’. The reporter on Channel Four spent most of her allotted time talking about the weather in Spain, Morocco and the Black Sea."
As the speaker moves into unfamiliar territory, confronting and overcoming difficulties and meeting people from varied backgrounds, a synthesis begins. The speaker meets himself—a true appreciation of his Australian upbringing surfaces alongside an understanding that he is not only the product of his culture. He is also one who can freely choose who he will become.
Lauren Elise Daniels - Prose Editor, Newport RI