[Reading] ➿ The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America ➶ Bill Bryson – Loufanet.info

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America This was the book that made me fall in love with Bill Bryson s writing many years ago It helps a little bit that we both grew up in Iowa, but this man is so funny, I cannot imagine any reader not having a great time with his books Enjoy a fun road trip across America in this rollicking tale. I come from Des Moines Somebody had to Thus begins Bill Bryson his travelogue, setting the tone for what is going to follow he is a smart aleck, and he is going to be at his sarcastic best in taking down small town America through which he is going to travel.Des Moines in Iowa is a typical small town in America where nothing ever happens and nobody ever leaves, because that is the only life they have known and they are happy with it But not so young Bill he watched one TV show on Europe I come from Des Moines Somebody had to Thus begins Bill Bryson his travelogue, setting the tone for what is going to follow he is a smart aleck, and he is going to be at his sarcastic best in taking down small town America through which he is going to travel.Des Moines in Iowa is a typical small town in America where nothing ever happens and nobody ever leaves, because that is the only life they have known and they are happy with it But not so young Bill he watched one TV show on Europe when he was ten and was consumed with a desire to become European After a steady diet of National Geographics during his adolescence, Bryson left for England and settled there However, during his middle age, he was filled with a sense of nostalgia for small town America, and the journeys he had across them with his family as a child.Bryson s father was an inveterate traveller who compulsively took his family on vacations every year These would have been extremely enjoyable except for two issues Senior Mr Bryson s penchant for getting lost as well as his unbearable thrift as Bill says, h e was a child of the Depression and where capital outlays were involved he always wore the haunted look of a fugitive who has just heard blood hounds in the distance which made him avoid good restaurants and forced them to stay almost always in rundown motels.But as happens to most of us, the onset of age made Bryson view these journeysandfavourably through the rose tinted glasses of fond memory until one day he came back to the home of his youth and set across the country of his birth in an ageing Chevrolet Chevette He made two sweeps in all, one circle to the East in autumn and another to the West in spring His experiences during these two journeys are set forth in this hilarious and compulsively readable book If one is familiar with Bryson, one knows what to expect from his books sarcastic humour, bordering on the cruel enthralling snippets about history and geography and really expressive descriptions of the places he visited All these trademarks are in evidence here By the time I finished this book, I found that I possessed a surprisingly large amount of information about America, what landmarks to visit, and what famous personalities lived where Bryson writes with great feel and the place comes alive for you His predilection for staying in small towns and seedy motels the latter actually not by choice many of the towns he ended up in the night did not have any other type of accommodation shows up a facet of America the tourist is unlikely to see.But it s when he writes about people that Bryson gives free rein to his biting wit The Illinois barmaid with Ready for Sex written all over her face the Mississippi policeman who asks Hah doo lack Miss Hippy How do you like Mississippi the Indian gentleman who would not stop questioning a hungover Bryson about the possibility of smoking inside a bus who ultimately had to be shouted down the geriatric pump attendant spraying petrol all over the place, with a burning cigarette butt stuck in his mouth I can go on and on Even though these people were used as the butts of jokes, I ended up loving them they were so human.And of course, one can t forget Bryson s signature comments about America The whole of the global economy is based on supplying the cravings of two per cent of the world s population If Americans suddenly stopped indulging themselves, or ran out of closet space, the world would fall apart When you grow up in America you are inculcated from the earliest age with the belief no, the understanding that America is the richest and most powerful nation on earth because God likes us best It has the most perfect form of government, the most exciting sporting events, the tastiest food and amplest portions, the largest cars, the cheapest gasoline, the most abundant natural resources, the most productive farms, the most devastating nuclear arsenal and the friendliest, most decent and most patriotic folks on earth Countries just don t come any better So why anyone would want to live anywhere else is practically incomprehensible In a foreigner it is puzzling in a native it is seditious And this hilarious quip about ONE PARTICULAR AMERICAN On Fifth Avenue I went into the Trump Tower, a new skyscraper A guy named Donald Trump, a developer, is slowly taking over New York, building skyscrapers all over town with his name on them, so I went in and had a look around The building had the most tasteless lobby I had ever seen all brass and chrome and blotchy red and white marble that looked like the sort of thing that you would walk around if you saw it on the sidewalk Here it was everywhere on the floors, up the walls, on the ceiling It was like being in somebody s stomach after he d eaten pizza One may ask, whether after the journey, was Bryson satisfied Well, maybe not fully there are three things you just can t do in life You can t beat the phone company, you can t make a waiter see you until he s ready to see you, and you can t go home again This is something which all of us must have felt one time or the other the landscapes of our youth can be visited only through memory I Come From Des Moines Somebody Had To And, As Soon As Bill Bryson Was Old Enough, He Left Des Moines Couldn T Hold Him, But It Did Lure Him Back After Ten Years In England, He Returned To The Land Of His Youth, And Drove Almost , Miles In Search Of A Mythical Small Town Called Amalgam, The Kind Of Trim And Sunny Place Where The Films Of His Youth Were Set Instead, His Search Led Him To Anywhere, USA A Lookalike Strip Of Gas Stations, Motels And Hamburger Outlets Populated By Lookalike People With A Penchant For Synthetic Fibres Travelling Around Thirty Eight Of The Lower States United Only In Their Mind Numbingly Dreary Uniformity He Discovered A Continent That Was Doubly Lost Lost To Itself Because Blighted By Greed, Pollution, Mobile Homes And Television Lost To Him Because He Had Become A Stranger In His Own LandThe Lost Continent Is A Classic Of Travel Literature Hilariously, Stomach Achingly Funny, Yet Tinged With Heartache And The Book That First Staked Bill Bryson S Claim As The Most Beloved Writer Of His Generation In which a bilious Bryson, returning to the U.S after living in England, borrows his mom s car with her permission and sets out to find the perfect American small town.Bryson kind of loses focus of his main task along the way, but that doesn t prevent him from slinging his jibes at 38 of the lower U.S states.This one s almost as funny as the other Bryson books I ve read, but he seems to have a stick up his behind for most of it and the sometimes nasty barbs at middle Americans lose steam fai In which a bilious Bryson, returning to the U.S after living in England, borrows his mom s car with her permission and sets out to find the perfect American small town.Bryson kind of loses focus of his main task along the way, but that doesn t prevent him from slinging his jibes at 38 of the lower U.S states.This one s almost as funny as the other Bryson books I ve read, but he seems to have a stick up his behind for most of it and the sometimes nasty barbs at middle Americans lose steam fairly quickly.A nice quota of belly laughs are found herein, but you ll be shaking your head and saying, What the Hell, Billoften than not Well, ain t it somethin for dat rascally Mr Bryson wit all o dat funny Northern talk to make his way down here to Dixie and spend some time wid us We sure do ppreciate you takin us into your rich and well knowed book, Mr Bryson And yer gosh darn right, God save all those poor folk who done shopped at K Mart They should ve spent their nickels at Crate Barrel had they knowed what to do wid demselves Well, ain t it somethin for dat rascally Mr Bryson wit all o dat funny Northern talk to make his way down here to Dixie and spend some time wid us We sure do ppreciate you takin us into your rich and well knowed book, Mr Bryson And yer gosh darn right, God save all those poor folk who done shopped at K Mart They should ve spent their nickels at Crate Barrel had they knowed what to do wid demselves. I come from Des Moines Somebody had to When you come from Des Moines you either accept the fact without question and settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever, or you spend your adolescence moaning at length about what a dump it is and how you can t wait to get out, and then you settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever.So begins Bill Bryson s book about I come from Des Moines Somebody had to When you come from Des Moines you either accept the fact without question and settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever, or you spend your adolescence moaning at length about what a dump it is and how you can t wait to get out, and then you settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever.So begins Bill Bryson s book about returning to his childhood home after living in England for a decade The above isn t that much different from what many people would write about the place where they grew up and from which they left at the first opportunity.But there sHe goes on to write that h ardly anyone ever leaves This is because Des Moines is the most powerful hypnotic known to man Okay I can see how a young man, especially one who has traded Iowa for England, might have the same reaction to the place he left.But he s not through.When I was growing up I used to think that the best thing about coming from Des Moines was that it meant you didn t come from anywhere else in Iowa By Iowa standards, Des Moines is a mecca of cosmopolitanism During the annual state high school basketball tournament, when the hayseeds from out in the state would flood into the city for a week, we used to accost them downtown and snidely offer to show them how to ride an escalator or negotiate a revolving door.And you know what I was beginning to believe that the condescending little smart aleck probably did just that smart aleck being a euphemism for another euphemism There sIowa women are almost sensationally overweight I bet they loved reading this book in Iowa especially the women.However Above all, Iowans are friendly You go into a strange diner in the South and everything goes quiet, and you realize all the other customers are looking at you as if they are sizing up the risk involved in murdering you for your wallet and leaving your body in a shallow grave somewhere out in the swamps.I bet they loved reading this book in the South.All of this is the beginning of Bryson s first travel book which was published in 1989 when he was thirty six years old, and still just as susceptible to boredom as he was as a child whining in the backseat of the car when the family took road trip vacations to places that he didn t like And the reason he didn t like them was because he lacked the imagination that would have allowed him to see beyond the monotonous scenery of certain areas that could have made him appreciate the area s history and uniqueness.I know the above to be true because the same tendencies were apparent in the thirty six year old man who wrote a book.He spent a fall and a spring traveling in two huge loops one in the east and one in the west almost 14,000 miles, touching barely in many cases thirty eight states and found most of those miles and those states to be boring His idea of humor was to make fun at the expense of the people he encountered, rarely ever engaging them in conversation.Here is the lengthiest conversation with a local that he recorded in the book I was headed for Cairo Illinois , which is pronounced Kay ro I don t know why At Cairo I stopped for gas and in fact did ask the old guy who doddered out to fill my tank why they pronounced Cairo as they did Because that s its name, he explained as if I were kind of stupid But the one in Egypt is pronounced Ki Ro So, I ve heard, agreed the man And most people, when they see the name, think Ki ro, don t they Not in Kay ro they don t, he said a little hotly There didn t seem to be much to be gained by pursuing the point, so I let it rest there, and I still don t know why the people call it Kay ro Nor do I know why any citizen of a free country would choose to live in such a dump, however you pronounce it.The shame is that if Ian Frazier, the author of Great Plains, had wondered about the name and why people lived in such a town, he would have found out and he would have let the reader know And so would have Rinker Buck, who traveled the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon from St Joseph, Missouri all the way to Oregon, and wrote about it in The Oregon Trail A New American Journey.Much of Buck s journey was along the Platte River in Nebraska, a state that Bryson barely nicked in the southeast corner of the state, proclaiming that Nebraska must be the most unexciting of all the states It isn t, but even if it was he didn t know enough about the state to make that judgment This was my second reading of Bryson s book I remembered that when I read it in the early 90s that there was some humor that made me chuckle, but there was also muchthat was so obnoxious that it made me cringe a little of that went a long way My reread doesn t change that assessment.What it did do was cause me to read Great Plains for the third time and The Oregon Trail for the first time They sit side by side on my favorites shelf I recommend them both.As for Bryson, he mellowed somewhat in the many books that followed I have no way of knowing, but perhaps he received some blowback about the harshness of the humor that he resorted to at other peoples expense I have read nearly everything that he later wrote down through the years and the humor is still prevalent, but it has lost some of the bitter edge that characterized this book And that s a good thing I do like my arm chair travelling with a hint of cynicism and much like Australians who are expert at taking the Mickey out of ourselves it was refreshing to see an American being able to take the piss.He may not be politically correct but who hasn t had a variation of the same thoughts going through their head about other tourists when travelling through touristy hot spots I can t express how much I enjoyed hearing about boring god awful places as much as I did during the reading of this book I do like my arm chair travelling with a hint of cynicism and much like Australians who are expert at taking the Mickey out of ourselves it was refreshing to see an American being able to take the piss.He may not be politically correct but who hasn t had a variation of the same thoughts going through their head about other tourists when travelling through touristy hot spots I can t express how much I enjoyed hearing about boring god awful places as much as I did during the reading of this book When people regale me with their travel stories I usually glaze over but I was strangely riveted and thedismal a place he visited thefun I seemed to have I m officially a Bill Bryson fan I really don t know why it took me so long to read him but now I just wantOn to the next adventure This is the worst book ever Bryson is a fat, cynical white guy traveling around the country, proclaiming in the subtitle Travels in Small Town America But like most fat white guys, Bryson is scared of small town America He hates every small town he comes to whether they re on Indian reservations, small farming communities in Nebraska, southern towns full of African Americans where the author is too scared to even stop the car, or small mining communities in West Virginia, also where the a This is the worst book ever Bryson is a fat, cynical white guy traveling around the country, proclaiming in the subtitle Travels in Small Town America But like most fat white guys, Bryson is scared of small town America He hates every small town he comes to whether they re on Indian reservations, small farming communities in Nebraska, southern towns full of African Americans where the author is too scared to even stop the car, or small mining communities in West Virginia, also where the author is too scared to stop How can you write a book about small town America when you re too scared to stop in any small towns His favorite towns Pittsburg and Charlotte Definitely small in my world Driving through the north woods, crossing the border from Maine to New Hampshire The skies were still flat and low, the weather cold, but at least I was out of the montony of the Maine woods In Littleton, on the Vermont border People on the sidewalk smiled at me as I passed This was beginning to worry me Nobody, even in America, is that friendly What did they want from me At a cemetery in Vermont I stood there in the mile October sunshine, feeling so sorry for all these lukles speople and their lost lives, reflecting bleakly on mortality and my own dear, cherished family so far away in England, and I thought, Well, fuck this, and walked back down the hill to the car At least he freely refers to himself as a flinty hearted jerk off Maybe Mr Bryson should get off his lazy ass, stop whining about England, and actually stop the car once in a while This book spouts so much hateful white guy racism that I can t even bring myself to give it away While I am 100% against burning or destroying any kind of book, I simply cannot let this one leave my hands It will probably just find someone who agrees with it s horrible twisted and pessimistic point of view I haven t decided if I m going to just bury it in my storage space which may mean when I leave my apartment someone else might pick it up , or accidentally drop it in a snowbank outside At least in spring the pages would all be glued together, and no one would be able to read it ever again I come from Des Moines Somebody had to When you come from Des Moines you either accept the fact without question and settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever, or you spend your adolescence moaning at length about what a dump it is and how you can t wait to get out, and then you settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever Bill Bryson, The Lost Continen I come from Des Moines Somebody had to When you come from Des Moines you either accept the fact without question and settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever, or you spend your adolescence moaning at length about what a dump it is and how you can t wait to get out, and then you settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent Give me chance to explain I know that Bill Bryson is a hugely successful, internationally bestselling author I know his books are on the shelves of millions Heck, even I own one, the entertaining, easily digestible One Summer.But The Lost Continent is not good It is, in fact, an absolute bummer I would not recommend it at any time, but especially not in these particular days of division, discord, and fear Part of my reaction, I see now, was shock Shock that this super popular writer could have produced something like this I stumbled across The Lost Continent quite by accident It was on my wife s personal bookshelf, which is to say, it was in a cardboard box under our bed, and I found it while looking for a shoe.The premise a thirty eight state tour of America, purportedly focusing on small towns seemed charming and sweet, a marvelous opportunity to hit the backroads and find beauty in simplicity Sure, there d probably be some light ribbing at the expense of rural folk, yet I was certain we d ultimately end at a place of warmth and conciliation Well, turns out my assumptions were wrong This book is garbage I hated it, with every fiber of my being From the first page to the last This is awful It is spiteful, mean, heartless, uninspired, offensive, insulting, unfunny, uninterested, and dreary At its best, it is punching down At its worst, it is close to hateful The Lost Continent is a book to take your mood, whatever it is, and drive it down, like a nail pounded into soft mud by a sledgehammer In other words, not the best thing to be reading in 2020, while America falls apart In all honesty, this might have played a part in my reaction As noted above, Bryson has an incredibly lofty reputation This was also his first book, so he was probably still working on his voice But these pages many of them filled with my furious annotations feel like the work of an anti intellectual knuckle dragging mouth breather.The execution of The Lost Continent is cold, repetitive, and soul wearying Bryson goes to a place, spends five minutes there, declares it boring, and leaves in a cloud of gutter level playground insults He uses that descriptor boring so many times I stopped counting Over and over again It is the absolute height of obnoxiousness My three year old says it s boring, a lot Bryson was thirty six when he wrote this I would never slap my kids Bryson, on the other hand never mind The only joke that works in The Lost Continent is a meta one To wit Bryson, despite all his sneering at the non people he meets, comes off as the dumbest asshole in the realm He adds nothing to any conversation He does not make a single acute observation He is a lackluster faux adventurer who finds only one thing in each new place a reason to despise it Mostly, his reasons contradict themselves The waitresses are either too friendly or not friendly enough The hotels are either too small or too large The small towns are either too dumpy or too perfect In the midst of this mess of ill considered thoughts, Bryson somehow avoids putting two ideas together, even by accident There is not a single insight about America worth repeating I love road trips Like, really, really love them When I first got married, my wife and I blazed a path thousands of miles long through Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas, and Oklahoma, sniffing out historic sites and accumulating rest stop maps and collecting gas station sunglasses and having the best time of our lives Every day we just woke up and drove, finding someplace new Sometimes, when our four kids are simultaneously complaining about everything in a Bryson like manner we think back to those days, when every road was an opportunity You almost can t go wrong with a road trip With Bryson as your seatmate, though, I d prefer Third Class tickets on the Titanic His gimmick is aging frat boy, a tired m lange of casual misogyny, occasional f bombs, and an inability for self reflection the constant fat shaming of women, for instance, is odd, since based on his cover photo, he s not exactly Brad Pitt from Thelma and Louise One has to question how, with the road before him, a map beside him, and all the time that he needed, Bryon went into this project with the mindset of a person on a death march I had fair warning, within the first few pages Things start off badly, and get worse Bryson begins by claiming his birthright as a Midwesterner Specifically, he is from Des Moines, Iowa This opening gambit is a transparent pose For some reason, people believe that claiming membership of a group gives them an open season license to fire at will Here, Bryson thinks he can be as outrageous as he wants, since he s ostensibly just another small towner, no different from the people he s slagging But that s not true Bryson was born in Iowa, but he s lived the majority of his life in London, and he wastes no time establishing his superiority and Anglophilia You see that in the way he talks about Des Moines, a description that is just at odds with reality Yes, Des Moines is in Iowa No, despite Bryson s allegations, it is not comprised solely of overweight women at the Merle Hay Mall Rather, it is the state capital of Iowa with a cool capitol building , a college town Drake University, founded in 1881 , and host to a unique, internationally known event the Drake Relays It is a modern city But to hear Bryson describe it, everyone is still going potty in an outhouse, while looking upwards in abject horror whenever a flying machine passes overhead Bryson is clearly a brainy guy Yet, oddly, The Lost Continent presents very little by way of factoids or trivia, in contrast to One Summer, which was constructed entirely of factoids Here, though, Bryson is absolutely un curious and unquestioning Take the Merle Hay Mall It s not just a gathering place for the overweight It s named for Merle Hay, reputed to be the first American soldier killed in World War I Why do I know that Because I used to drive through Des Moines on a bimonthly basis I saw the name, thought it was interesting, and I went home and looked it up In all the thousands of miles that Bryson traveled, I don t think he once wrote something down and said, I should look that up In short He Does Not Care The Lost Continent is roughly divided into two parts East and West In both, the setup is the same Bryson who has been overseas for twenty years hops in his mom s Chevette and starts driving It s a simple, excellent idea, and it jumpstarted a long and lucrative career, in which he has morphed into a beloved literary figure That s quite a turn, because The Lost Continent is mostly about Bryson badmouthing all that he surveys Unsurprisingly, Iowa gets slammed Surprisingly, Bryson slams it by comparing it to the Sorrentine Coast, which is in Italy, and is also a place where the land meets the ocean Is it really fair no, strike that Is it really coherent to compare a landlocked state to an ocean coast No, it s not That doesn t matter to Bryson, because he has only three tools in his toolbox Fat Women Jokes Corn Jokes and Euro elitism.That s not fair He also finds time for some sub Seinfeld riffs on the commercials he watches in his hotel room You haven t been introduced to Not Funny until you ve seen Bryson crack wise about Preparation H Honestly, you d be better off sniffing a ton of modeling glue, rather than exposing yourself to this The list of places that Bryson goes is long and merges together into one endless complaint He doesn t like Hannibal, Missouri, or Mark Twain s home He doesn t like the Mississippi River dull or Gettysburg boring or the Smokey Mountains beautiful, but too many fat tourists Because he wants to spread his unamusing misanthropy as far as possible, he even goes to big cities Las Vegas, New York City so he can complaint about them too.Nothing can possibly please him The incident that really stands out is when Bryson goes to Yosemite National Park, one of the most beautiful places in the entire world Of course, he concludes it is nothing but a massive disappointment Why, you might ask Because it is busy that is, filled with tourists who are you guessed it fat , and because he got lost Two quick points The first of course it s busy, it s Yosemite National Park, one of the most beautiful places in the world It s not some dank chippy in Lambeth where you can just sit all day by yourself in a dark corner, sipping Carling and despising everything The second Bryson getting lost is his own stinking fault I went to Yosemite with friends some years ago Since it was packed being one of the most beautiful, etc., etc , we drove directly to the Ranger Station, and simply asked the Ranger where we could go to get away from the crowds The Ranger answered our question, and we hiked for five days With the exception of the day we went up Half Dome, we didn t see another soul The point, of course, is that Yosemite is massive You can get lost in it and not on the roads, like Bryson, but in the miles and miles and miles of backcountry paths Bryson, though, goes to this place of incredible wonder and beauty, and is just disgusted, because there are others around him Then he leaves and goes to a crappy hotel room to drink beer and watch television, like he does every night If he had put forth the minutest effort, instead of whinging about every damn thing, he might have experienced something That s not his way, though He prefers to take drive by potshots at the world which he clearly believes is meant for him alone , without ever getting out of his Chevette and interacting with his environment It is striking how few people Bryson actually speaks with in the course of 299 interminable pages Unlike Tony Horwitz in Confederates in the Attic which is how you do a travel memoir , Bryson can t engage in any meaningful interactions This is not terribly shocking, since he comes off as a gaseous prick Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning, as it is symptomatic of Bryson s extremely dark view of humanity To him, the people in these small towns are not people at all They are creatures They are lower lifeforms without thoughts, dreams, loves, interests, ambitions The way he writes about them is almost a literary cleansing, a condescension so vast and powerful that it denies men and women their basic humanity The funny thing is, the joke is on Bryson Published in 1989, we are now in the midst of a full fledged culture war pitting urban Americans against rural Americans The Lost Continent was not the cause, of course But it was a harbinger It turns out that a lot of Americans knew exactly what smug elites like Bryson were saying all along It alienated them, and that alienation has turned to anger Somewhere along the line, Bryson must have changed At the very least, his persona must have changed I m making this assumption because I get Bryson recommendations all the time Almost everyone I know has A Walk in the Woods on their shelves This includes people who would not be okay with the way that Bryson talks about poverty and poor people including snide remarks to beggars about having no dignity or the way he refers to Truman Capote as a mincing little f g Aside Bryson s views on poverty are both thoughtless, heartless, and fact less Indeed, there are times this feels like a high school kid s unfortunate Twitter feed the kind you eventually erase, hoping no one saw it rather than the work of a middle age man who should know better.I have not looked into the matter, but I wonder if Bryson realized that childhood and nostalgia would work better and sellbooks than this toxic stew I wonder if he did the calculations and changed his style accordingly If he did, only he can say if the change wasthan skin deep To be fair though I shouldn t have to be fair Bryson isn t the final third of The Lost Continent ispalatable This covers the time heading west, rather than east, and he lightens up a bit, acknowledges some of his own shortcomings, and also manages a glimmer of well, it s not happiness, per se, but it s a step above his usual griping The final page is beautifully written, and if the book had used that tone rather than being the exact opposite of that tone this might have been a great book, rather than one of the worst I ve ever encountered It also would ve helped if there had beenof Bryson s dad, a figure who appears far too infrequently, and seems a much better traveling companion Bryson s dad was excited to go places, excited to meet people, excited to be on the road The final thing I have to say I promise is that travel is an incredible privilege Aside from being extremely fun, it is also among the finest ways that exist in our universe to make connections and create empathy across the lines national, cultural, racial, economic, religious that separate us It is an absolute shame that Bryson took this gift this gift of opportunity, of time, of ability to make his journey a parade of nastiness In all his miles, he never found any common ground he found only chasms In all his miles, he never shared an awesome sight he felt only bitterness that sights had to be shared In all his miles, he never once seemed truly happy As a result, The Lost Continent is awfully sad, on top of everything else It s funny how so many Americans begin their reviews of The Lost Continent with statements such as I loved Bryson s other books but this one is terrible , all because he treats America the same way as he treats everywhere and everyone else.So while many Americans think it s acceptable hilarious, even for Bryson to make disparaging but witty comments about non Americans and the places they call home, it is an utter outrage for him to be anything other than completely worshipful with regar It s funny how so many Americans begin their reviews of The Lost Continent with statements such as I loved Bryson s other books but this one is terrible , all because he treats America the same way as he treats everywhere and everyone else.So while many Americans think it s acceptable hilarious, even for Bryson to make disparaging but witty comments about non Americans and the places they call home, it is an utter outrage for him to be anything other than completely worshipful with regard to America and Americans.The unavoidable, undeniable fact of the matter is that Bill Bryson s The Lost Continent is not only one of his finest works, but one of the best books ever written by anyone in recent times about the USA and Americans.It is as funny as anything you ll ever read, as well as being touching, poignant and fascinating It is the first book I ve read since Neither Here Nor There also by Bryson that has caused me to think of calling my travel agent.America has never been half as interesting as it is in The Lost Continent and Americans ought to be supremely grateful it was written and published.Five stars and highly recommended


About the Author: Bill Bryson

William McGuire Bill Bryson, OBE, FRS was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951 He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.In The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson s hilarious first travel book, he chronicled a trip in his mother s Chevy around small town America It was followed by Neither Here Nor There, an account of his first trip around Europe Other travel books include the massive bestseller Notes From a Small Island, which won the 2003 World Book Day National Poll to find the book which best represented modern England, followed by A Walk in the Woods in which Stephen Katz, his travel companion from Neither Here Nor There, made a welcome reappearance , Notes From a Big Country and Down Under.Bill Bryson has also written several highly praised books on the English language, including Mother Tongue and Made in America In his last book, he turned his attention to science A Short History of Nearly Everything was lauded with critical acclaim, and became a huge bestseller It was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, before going on to win the Aventis Prize for Science Books and the Descartes Science Communication Prize His next book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, is a memoir of growing up in 1950s America, featuring another appearance from his old friend Stephen Katz October 8 sees the publication of A Really Short History of Nearly Everything .


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