In 1989 Bill Bryson drove throughout the United States on a quest to find the quintessential American city. He referred to it as “Amalgam, USA” and the quest became his book “The Lost Continent.” He did find many beautiful spots in the U.S. but sure doesn’t hold back when he is disappointed. Heads up- this is not a children’s book, too many four letter words (well placed, too, I stoop to crass humor…).
I enjoyed this read, but I offer a couple cautions-
If you are an American, read only if you have a healthy sense of humor and can take a joke about your country.
If you are not an American, Read this book if you want to read an ex-pat’s biting description of the USA, but please take most of it with a grain of salt. Please?
He’s a timid traveller here after living abroad, but uses his wit in his defense. Two quotes (of many examples) to illustrate: “A sign beside the highway said ‘Welcome to Mississippi. We Shoot to Kill.’ It didn’t really. Just made that up.” On New York City’s Times Square- “New York frightened me… I felt a personal gratitude to everyone who left me alone. I wanted to hand out cards that said, ‘Thank you for not killing me.’“
Reading this book kind of makes you want to tour the States- not because his descriptions of beautiful scenery and fascinating people draw you in, but instead because you want to defend them! It would be satisfying to visit the New England states he hated and send him a postcard detailing the fine sights that you were able to view, in contrast his perspectives of a New England with never ending strip malls, a slow witted South, a monotonous Midwest… etc. Remember- he’s a comedian, and if you are going to laugh at one region he details, you have to be able to take it when he sticks it to your region.
Bill Bryson’s “The Lost Continent” is funny. I liked it, but definitely not for everyone.
On Monday, I had intended to give an update on the Book of the Month. Even though the plan derailed, my train of thought is powered by a compulsive desire to see those little calendar dates all filled in, each and every day.
Monday was Migraine day. Sometimes after a migraine ceases you feel physically lighter, floating or at least as if a weight has literally been lifted off of your head. Sometimes you feel as though pressure has been released… or that the vacuum chamber that you are stuck in has finally unlocked and your entire being is returning to normal.
Weird, I know. It feels cathartic to just explain what the pain feels like to me. I wonder if by being able to put words to the extreme discomfort that I am conquering it in a way? Psychologists, doctors, med students, and Psychiatrists, feel free to chime in. Seriously.
So, Monday I didn’t even lift my book. I didn’t even lift my body off of the couch most of the day.
But- here is the book update about my new read this month:
Need a good laugh? Go get this book. Bill Bryson’s “The Lost Continent.” Warning: you have to have thick skin to read this book, because he busts on just about everyone across the country. Overall I am loving this book, lots of laugh-out-loud moments!
And, later today I will move this post on over to Monday. Where it belongs. Out, damned blank spot! Out, I say!
I first read Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” about 15 years ago on the heels of finishing his “English: The Mother Tongue.” I loved his humor, perspective and narrative, and “Walk in the Woods” adventures through misadventures along the Appalachian Trail had me completely hooked on his books. The guy is funny; in my opinion, he’s kind of a cross between Dave Barry and Garrison Keillor. If you don’t know who either of these two examples are, you n00b- stop what you are doing and click those links. Go ahead, use my links, you lazy butt, and spend the time you just saved reading up on them… I’ll wait…
This month I’ll finally read “The Lost Continent.” I’ve had this title on my shelf for several years, never letting my dad borrow it because I have meant to get to it, but never did. Yeah, it’s a theme in my life lately, hence, This Blog.
I’m hoping that it can hold a candle to “A Walk in the Woods,” and want to pick up “Neither Here Nor There,” “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” and “Shakespeare: The World as a Stage” next.
And maybe the rest of his writings as well… there’s about twenty in this lineup.
And Dad? You can borrow it at the end of April.
*If you really are unfamiliar with Garrison Keillor and Dave Barry, spend some time tripping through the web following links, and laugh the whole way. You’ll thank me.