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A Tall Man in a Low Land

A Tall Man in a Low Land

Author(s): Harry Pearson

Location(s): Belgium

Genre(s): Travelogue

Era(s): 2000s



Belgium has had its share of defining moments: the treaty of Vienna after Napoleon, two world wars and, rounding out the 20th century, contaminated Coke come to mind. In A Tall Man in a Low Land the curmudgeonly comic Harry Pearson grabs this theme in his teeth and, growling through the lowlands, asks “what the bloody hell am I doing here?” Along the way, Pearson bumps into some curiously sympathetic observers, the Belgians themselves. His meandering path of puns and one-liners describes the land of the Flemish and the French Walloons: two worlds for the price of one.
Pearson wisely skirts Brussels, the home of the 17th-century statue of the Manneken-Pis, Belgium’s unfortunate guidebook equivalent to Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower. Instead he heads into the countryside, taking a poke at sights no guide would have the guts to mention: the life-threatening preoccupation with electrical DIY projects and a Flemish landscape of garden ornaments littering every nook and cranny. Such observations are fuelled by Pearson’s ability to deliver detail with a punch line though he doesn’t approach Bill Bryson’s story-telling ease.

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Lead Review

Pearson began the trip in search of insight into one of Europe’s most densely populated countries and concludes that the Belgians suffer from low self esteem. Then, with the wit that defines a traveller’s...

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