cover image Round Ireland with a Fridge

Round Ireland with a Fridge

Tony Hawks. Thomas Dunne Books, $23.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-24236-7

When British writer, performer and musician Hawks makes a drunken bet for 100 that he can ""hitchhike round the circumference of Ireland, with a fridge, in one calendar month,"" he starts, in 1997, an unexpectedly wonderful adventure into the good-natured soul of the Irish people. Though the book begins inauspiciously as a bad parody of Dave Barry's travel books, with Hawks assuming a smug distance from the people and events he encounters, happily fate intervenes in the form of a jovial radio-show host who convinces Hawks to phone in daily to share updates about his travels with the fridge. Almost overnight, Hawks becomes a regional legend--""The Fridge Man""--with all sorts of people willing to help him achieve his goal, however silly it may be. What could have been a convenient contrivance actually allows a kinder and far funnier Hawks to appear, as his daily talks with his radio ""fans"" bring him unexpected delights, including encounters with an overenthusiastic innkeeper and his family, the amazing champion surfer Bingo, various musicians and lots of pub visits. In the end, Hawks's book becomes a lively celebration of contemporary Irish society and the goodwill of its people that neither revels in irony nor descends into mawkishness. (Mar.)