A Travellerspoint blog

October 2009

The Lost Continent: Travels In Small-Town America

by Bill Bryson

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The Author & Introduction

During my time as a member of Travellerspoint, I have seen quite a few threads asking what books people read while traveling, what should someone read before traveling, what are member's favorite travel-related literary works, and so on. (A lot of "what" questions.) These requests were the reason the original TP Book Club thread was started in the Off Topic Forum. One author who always makes an early appearance is Bill Bryson. (Tway and I seem to trip over each other trying to beat each other to the proverbial posting punch where Bryson is concerned.) He is well-known for his sardonic wit and (non-fiction) travelogue style. Other Bryson works include: The Mother Tongue, Made In America, Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away and In A Sunburned Country.

The Review

Bill Bryson was born during 1951 in Des Moines, Iowa. Like most middle-class American families of the time, vacations revolved around the "road trip" across the US. Such trips would usually include historic battle fields and anything that would let you in for free. Having been born only a couple of years later (and in a similarly-sized Iowa town), I could relate to Mr. Bryson's descriptions of the over-heated car, long hours on the highway and not stopping to pee. (After all, wasn't that what coffee cans were really designed for - emptying your bladder on long road trips?!) But, that's not what this book is about...

Having fled the country of his origins, once he became of age, Bryson set down his roots in the UK. Now, almost 2 decades later, he leaves his family in London and returns to rediscover The Lost Continent of his youth. Equipped with only a Chevy Chevette, borrowed from his mother, Bryson sets out on a 13,978 mile journey across 38 of the 48 contiguous states. It is a journey centered on love, hate and home. It is also a journey of unexpected revelations.

Having been in several of the places Mr. Bryson visits, I don't always agree with his assessments. But, that doesn't mean he's right or I am wrong in our experiences. We just saw things differently. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone planning a trip to the US. I also suggest that you check things out for yourself and not trust Mr. Bryson's opinion. Remember, he's an American looking at things from an American point of view. (He has also moved back to the US.) Either way, it is a very entertaining read and makes me want to revisit some very old haunts.

Find this book on Amazon: The Lost Continent: Travels In Small-Town America

Posted by Isadora 13:19 Archived in USA Comments (3)

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