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#41: Highway star. Or maybe not.

RoundIrelandYou'd want to read a book entitled Round Ireland with a Fridge, wouldn't ya? The premise is simple: British comedian Tony Hawks is regaling his buddies at a party about how he once saw a hitchhiker at the side of the road in Ireland posted by a full-size fridge, hoping that someone would come by and give him and his appliance a lift. Hawks thinks the Irish so big-hearted that he doubts the man had had to wait long for a ride; his friends are more skeptical. After copious drinking, he wakes up the next morning with a raging hangover and signed evidence of a bet: Hawks apparently pledged that he himself could in one month's time hitchhike around the perimeter of Ireland with, well, you know. (For mercy's sake, Hawks is permitted to take a portable model instead of a full-size fridge.)

One of the big problems in Fridge is that Hawks very early in his journey gains the de facto sponsorship of an Irish radio station which chronicles his progress daily and urges listeners to seek him out and pick him up. This turns his journey from a one-man challenge into a publicity stunt with corporate backing; there's no way he'll fail, and therefore most of the suspense of the journey and the intrigue of seeing our narrator wrestle with unusual problems is lost. The book consequently has to derive its interest from the sights and people Hawks encounters, and our traveler is no help there; Hawks is largely impatient with those who help him and spends most of his time in pubs. His mind seems resolutely incurious, and while there're a couple incidents that pique one's interest - his visit to a lonely island town "ruled" by a would-be king; his travels near the border of Northern Ireland, where Hawks and his English accent have a devil of a time picking up a ride - there's precious little out of which to make a book here. Hawks tries to enliven his narrative with jokes of the wocka-wocka-wocka variety, but his attempts come off as obviously strained.

Round Ireland with a Fridge is a book for people who don't like books. I don't mean that as a compliment; I mean that it's for people who don't want to be bothered with stuff like characters or plot or a point to the story. Hawks' hitchhike could have been a lark, but it turns out that this trip was, well, not really necessary.

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