Leftbanker’s review of The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Sarita (new)

Sarita perfect. This sums it up.

message 2: by Noran (new)

Noran Miss Pumkin thank you from saving me from this book!

message 3: by Lorenzo (last edited Jun 24, 2008 01:07PM) (new)

Lorenzo Pilla Couldn't agree more! I read this for my book club and somehow my literary companions thought he was hilarious. I hope Bryson has since gone back to his English estate where he can maltreat his servants.

message 4: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth I agree 100%. I was so disappointed after hearing from so many people how funny Bryson is... apparently, not my sense of humor.

message 5: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Brilliantly stated. And I swear, I read no other reviews before I wrote my own - and I was genuinely surprised to see others' negative reviews of this horrid, obnoxious book. I spent several pages thinking, had I been a passenger, how much I'd liked to have driven away while he was using a gas station restroom...

message 6: by Joseph (new)

Joseph I absolutely agree. I had to quit at page 86, which starts with "South Carolina was boring."

message 7: by Mary (new)

Mary Oh my gosh! It seems everybody has read this man's books. I haven't but thought he must be the greatest thing since light bread as his books are everywhere. Could this many goodreads folks be wrong? I don't think so. Thanks for the warnings.

message 8: by Phobos (new)

Phobos You should read "Notes from a Small Island". He lampoons his own adopted country much the same way he rags on the US. I do agree that he is a bit of a snob at times.

message 9: by Leftbanker (last edited Apr 19, 2014 11:34PM) (new)

Leftbanker Carol wrote: "I really hated this book, too. It turned me off from reading any other Bryson books. But if I did attempt one of his other books, which would you recommend?"

Sunburnt Country about Australia was good because Bryson seemed to like the place. I think I reviewed it here on Goodreads.

message 10: by Alan (new)

Alan I think there are two main factors for many of those 1-star-ratings:
1. Some Americans can't understand that somebody could think that their country has its faults like all countries do.
2. They're put off because Bryson is an open Democrat and makes fun of Ronald Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

message 11: by Leftbanker (last edited Jul 19, 2012 10:57PM) (new)

Leftbanker Alan Mattli wrote: "I think there are two main factors for many of those 1-star-ratings:
1. Some Americans can't understand that somebody could think that their country has its faults like all countries do.
2. They're..."

Did you even bother to read my fucking review? You are wrong on both counts.

1) I live in Spain. In my life I have lived in three foreign countries for a total of ten years. I'm hardly the person who can't find fault with America.

2) I'm a diehard socialist and always have been, ever since my undergraduate days as a student of economics at Indiana University. I’m not and never was any sort of fan of Ronald Reagan.

Your criticisms have nothing to do with what I wrote. My 1 star rating is pretty well explained in my review, but it's just an opinion—something actually sought out on this site. But you haven’t written a single review so what do you know?

message 12: by Homeschoolmama (new)

Homeschoolmama Thanks for your insightful comments. I tried to read this book and couldn't get through it for the same reasons you mention here.. Pages and pages of the same complaints. I do enjoy Bryson's style, how word choices, but I had to put the book down. just too boring after awhile.

message 13: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Gunther This pretty much sums up every issue I have with Bill Bryson. Thanks!

message 14: by Flapane (new)

Flapane As an Italian who has read the first 10 pages so far and has been a few days in Iowa, I must confess that he somehow depicted well the principal aspects of Iowa and Des Moines. It may sound rude and boring because he always complains like an 80 years old coot, but I think it's just plain british sarcasm... I guess that's what you get when you live 20 years in the UK.
I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book in the next weeks, and see if my first impressions had been wrong.

message 15: by Kimberley (new)

Kimberley It's almost as though living in the UK has turned him into a jaded Brit...I'm a Brit and not nearly as jaded. He turned several sights that I saw during my own great American road trip into utter piss. This was such a horrendous book from Bryson.

message 16: by Gayle (new)

Gayle Amen!

message 17: by Alex ☯the last Took standing☯ (last edited May 27, 2013 10:53PM) (new)

Alex ☯the last Took standing☯ The book is, by far, the worst of his I've read, but for me it has at least 3 stars. Maybe it is because I'm not from the USA and I didn't get offended. I still think you took him too seriously, and Bryson it's the last writer you should take too seriously. Your critic it's exceptionally well written, though. Congrats on that!

message 18: by Leftbanker (new)

Leftbanker I'm not offended; I just think he's a little creep. He sounds like the last person on earth I would ever travel with because he's a whiner. Compare this book with his book about Australia where he seems to enjoy himself a bit. Paul Theroux is also a little whiny asshole in his travel books. Why do they bother leaving home?

message 19: by Kristina (new)

Kristina I'm in the middle of reading this and even though I generally like it, I do like your review as well.

Many people fall for his complaints and grumpyness. Often as he gets distressed the reader is sitting back laughing at his vexation because it's almost like slapstick comedy in writing. It's definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but Bryson sometimes makes a go for that sort of humour, probably because he feels that it goes with most of the readers.

I didn't care for him putting all those fat people on the pan - not cool to see such bashing coming from a middle-aged bloke who's not exactly thin and sporty himself. Kinda made me embarrassed in his place because it's pretty icky conduct.

What annoys me even more is that the book lacks some (or, better said, any) touch with the locals. Places are not just buildings and trees. The only times when he talks to anyone is to get away ASAP and subsequently mock their dialects. It's as if he dreads the people and thinks himself to be in permanent danger amongst 'crazy armed Southerners'. No fun there. Luckily he makes up for it with some of his remarks. I think there is still some pretty decent wit among all that heartless bashing.

message 20: by Will (new)

Will Hickox Are you folks unfamiliar with the concept of humor? Bryson obviously didn't set out to write a fair, balanced, helpful guide to traveling small-town America. Yes, he comes across as bored, cynical, uncomfortable, and somewhat snooty; yes, everyone he meets is a fat hick; and yes, he constantly gets into hapless situations. He's exaggerating things for comic effect. You all seem offended that Bryson didn't write a sappy, nostalgic love letter to Main Street U.S.A. In fact, his persona in the book sets out to find that very thing and is quickly disillusioned. It's called satire.

message 21: by Leftbanker (new)

Leftbanker To Will,

I actually get paid to write humor so spare me the lecture on comedy and satire. Here’s one thing that I know about humor: comedy is never unanimous. If you think that calling a town Urinal or Dogwater is funny then I’m not going to challenge you on that. And as I point out in my review “it’s always more interesting to praise something that you understand than to mock something that you don’t.” I’ve lived in Spain for almost eight years now and it would never occur to me to be a whiny little asshole about life here. I avoid the things I don’t like and I cherish everything else. It’s like he wants to have a miserable time in this book.

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. If they start to complain about the place I either change the subject or walk away if I can. Travel is supposed to broaden the mind, not make it narrower.

Contrast this book with his book about Australia, a place he seems to generally like. I found it a much better read and I didn’t want to leave the author in a shallow grave in the middle of nowhere.

message 22: by Brett (new)

Brett I felt more than a regular twinge of the man's pretentiousness in the "Walk in the Woods" book. I don't recall it being outright intolerable, as I did finish it rather quickly. it was just his view on everyone he met. His upper class disdain. So thank you for the review and comment discussions, I will refrain from checking this one out.

message 23: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Hovis I completely agree! This is only a good read if you want to tour the U.S. with a tired, boring, negative, curmudgeon. Life is too short to read the hateful opinions of an uninspired megalomaniac.

message 24: by Michael (new)

Michael Very good review. I understand humor but do get tired of continual put downs. I will try another of his books because I think maybe America is not one of his favorite places. However, I do agree with many of his political statements. That's why I've been living in France for the past ten years.

message 25: by Jen (new)

Jen Slipakoff I'm so relieved to know that I was not the only one who just can't stand this guy. I felt like so many of his comments were so rude and offensive...but maybe it was the earlier years in which they were written? Either way, I couldn't stomach this book.

message 26: by Rob (new)

Rob Gooden You yanks don't understand sarcasm, and hence are fulfilling the type that Bryson explores in his book. You need to relax and learn to take a joke.

message 27: by Leftbanker (new)

Leftbanker Maybe yanks don’t understand sarcasm but we understand the irony of a guy criticizing a review who hasn’t penned a single review himself. I can take jokes, it’s just that I prefer them to be good.

message 28: by Erik (new)

Erik this person obviously set out to not enjoy a very funny, humorous personal narrative of a trip through America's backwater. And as an american, his observations are spot on.

message 29: by James (new)

James Goeke I agree 100% with your review. I tried to read it on vacation but thankfully lost the book. Good riddance. I loved a"In a Sunburned Country" and "A Short History of Nearly Everything". I thought "A walk in the Woods" was average.

message 30: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Brady Our library book group just met to discuss,Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. I mention this only because one member talked about how smug Bryson seemed, making fun of people, particularly stupid people. Your review indicates the same smug attitude toward small town America.

message 31: by Susie (new)

Susie Have you ever driven through Nebraska? it's the longest drive in the universe and that drive has been a joke since I was a kid. But then again, I'm also from Iowa, so maybe it's an inside joke.

message 32: by Wayne (new)

Wayne Gile Spot on ! I have read nearly all of Bryson's books and usually enjoy them but this one was just a bitchfest. I live in Maine and his "Review " of my state was extremely shallow. His "tour" consisted of a short drive up the kitschy part of the state then out. He never even got close to the REAL Maine. Definitely his worst book.

message 33: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Great review. I also had a problem with the big cities...how will you get to know a country's small towns by visiting mainly national parks and big cities? Most of the small towns he saw where side- of-the-highway-pit-stop type places. I think the title is misleading. He covers Philly without even hinting at all of the small towns in the surrounding area. I have only lived in NJ and PA small towns my entire life, and there is so much more to appreciate than to belittle in my experience. I understand one person cannot attempt to visit every small town in the country, but give us a better sampling than this please!

message 34: by James (new)

James Inspired, keep up the good work.

message 35: by Erik (new)

Erik American readers can't handle self-reflection or some negative criticism.


Way to live up to the stereotype people!!

message 36: by Erik (new)

Erik Joseph wrote: "I absolutely agree. I had to quit at page 86, which starts with "South Carolina was boring.""

then you missed his love letter to Charleston, SC

message 37: by Leftbanker (new)

Leftbanker Erik wrote: American readers can't handle self-reflection or some negative criticism.


Way to live up to the stereotype people!!

I guess you told us. Thanks to your scathing wit I may never write another review of this book ever again.

P.S. Read my comment #21

message 38: by Erik (new)

Erik Leftbanker wrote: "Erik wrote: American readers can't handle self-reflection or some negative criticism.


Way to live up to the stereotype people!!

I guess you told us. Thanks to your scathing wit I ..."

"Trust me, I'm an expert at comedy"

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