Ciara's Reviews > The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America

The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
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's review
Mar 13, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: don-t-read-these
Recommended to Ciara by: Salvation Army
Recommended for: Hateful, bigoted, fat white men and racists
Read in February, 2008

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.

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10/01/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Finally! I meet someone else who doesn't like Bill Bryson. I read "A Walk in the Woods" about the Appalachian Trail and disliked it so much, because of his ill-informed but highly opiniated and shallow view of mountains, ecosystems, people that I've never read anything else of his. But everybody LOVES "A Walk in the Woods" and he's revered as a great travel writer! Not to mention William Least Heat Moon's "Blue Highways" and how condescending and dismissive he was of all the people he met in small town America!

Ciara Thanks Barbara! I thought I was delusional not to like him too.

Lorenzo Pilla Me too. Bryson is an annoying fat-ass who should go back to wherever he now comes from! This book is so cynically condescending that even a left-wing, elitist, latte drinking, former expat like me wants to kick him squarely in the ass and send him right back to whichever enlightened European country he feels is worthy of him. Jeez, and the rest of my book club thought he was funny??!! What are they smoking?

Leftbanker I have to join in on the Bryson virtual lynching. I just can't understand how anyone finds him funny. Why does he even bother to travel? He seems to depise coming across anything unfamiliar. I pretty much slammed him in my review and I give almost everything 5 stars.

Hannah G you all sound like hicks.....confusing observation for cynicism..standard hick behavior. don't feel bad about it. it happens when you live in shittyville usa. :)

Yanbing Last time I checked, which is 2 seconds ago, he did not even mention Pittsburg or Charlotte. Are you reading a different book?

I think most people who could not stand the book seem to have missed the point that apart from being a travelog it is also meant as a standup comedy. Like all comedians the author is wearing a persona, and he is making as much fun of himself as he is of everyone else. His snide comments are often satire and self-mockery at the same time. The fat white male who is afraid to stop in an unfamiliar black neighborhood is not just Bill Bryson, but also you and me, only we don't want to admit (or at least don't feel comfortable talking about) it.

Finally, is one allowed to write a travel book that does not praise the places he visits, all the time?

message 7: by Jozef (new) - added it

Jozef Nakielski I'd agree with that Yanbing

D.A. Cairns Massive overreaction Ciara, but I agree that most of his commentary is negative and nasty. It is very well written though.

Stefan Martiyan What does Bryson's weight have to do w/anything? I only ask b/c it's mentioned in the original post and then in a few "hate mail" type responses too. Does stating his race and weight at the beginning of your argument help validate your dislike for the author's own personal perspective or are you just adding to the stereotype that fat white guys are not able to "get off their ass" and smell the roses? He's a cynic and he's also very funny. I would presume that anyone who can't see the lighthearted humor in Bryson's books doesn't really have a good sense of humor.

message 10: by Jozef (new) - added it

Jozef Nakielski I'm not sure, because whilst pointing out the facts that he is white and is fat, is cynical, is a guy and is travelling America isn't racist, because they are facts, a lot of criticism about the books racist over tones is included.
I did notice that there seems to be a lot of references to race and colour and to be honest it did make me feel slightly uneasy. It felt borderline of humour. It wasn't good.

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