If this sounds like your idea of a good time, read Bill Brysons The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America (Abacus, 1990). Dont worry about the intrepid insulter running out of clever names for hick towns; Bryson has a million of them and he uses every single one. Bryson implies that the people who listen to this music are just too stupid to realize that it is only one tune played over and over. He gripes about a weatherman on TV who seems rather gleeful at the prospect of a coming snow storm yet Bryson seems to relish in the idea of not liking anything that he experiences in his journey. Just once I wanted him to roll into some town that he liked and get into an interesting conversation with one of its residents. Most Americans seem to be either fat, or stupid, or both in the eyes of Bryson. I can only assume that Bryson himself is some sort of genius body builder (although in his photo on the book jacket he's a fat schlub). Whenever someone starts to tell me about somewhere they went I ask them to describe their favorite thing about the trip, be it a place, food, the people, or whatever.
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.
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. 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. --- 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. Bryson writes with great feel and the place comes alive for you. (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... 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.
How can you write a book about small town America when you're too scared to stop in any small towns??? 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.
I cant express how much I enjoyed hearing about boring god awful places as much as I did during the reading of this book.
Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person who's noticed the fact that Bill Bryson is a smug bastard who casts a pall of depressing sarcasm over everything he writes about.
PS This was Bryson's first book.
I have been to many of the places in the west that he traveled to in this book and it was interesting to me to read about his experiences which were so different to what I experienced. We had a great breakfast in Sundance, WY and the waitress was so super nice and cheerful that I actually purchased a t-shirt to remember her.
In The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson's hilarious first travel book, he chronicled a trip in his mother's Chevy around small town America. Bill Bryson has also written several highly praised books on the English language, including Mother Tongue and Made in America.