Ariel Cummins's Reviews > I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away

I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson
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Jan 29, 12

bookshelves: nonfiction, funny, the-audio-files, books-for-grownups
Read from January 15 to 26, 2012

Now I love me some Bill Bryson. A Walk in the Woods got me through an otherwise bored-to-death drive across East Texas and Louisiana, and At Home was just amazing. This book, however, started out good but quickly verged into unentertaining territory. By the end of the book, I was so annoyed with Bryson that I almost didn't finish!

I think that the main thing that kept me from enjoying this book was the fact that it was a series of newspaper columns. I am positive that, had my consumption of these vignettes been spread over a period of months and years, I would have found them entertaining and delightful. However, one column after another that touched on the same themes, with none of them explored very deeply, began to wear on my nerves quite quickly. I also grew weary of Bryson's gimmick where he lists a long series of plausible but simultaneously ridiculous sounding qualities of something (like tax requirements). Amusing once, but three or four times over the course of a short text? Pass.

The tone of this text also began to wear on me. I know that part of Bryson's appeal is his slightly cranky-old-man grouchiness. However, in this book, I didn't see that grouchiness tempered by any of the joy typically found in his books. There was so little delight, and so much disdain, for America.

I suppose hard-core Bryson-heads will want to check this one out, but I think everyone else will be better of with one of his stronger titles.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Megan (new)

Megan Winget Really? You don't like Bill Bryson?!


Ariel Cummins I love Bill Bryson! I'm gonna write a review of this soon (probably today, 'cause I'm a Sunday Librarian!), but I thought it veered in to Andy-Rooney-level-grumpy-old-man-gripeness.

I looooooved Walk in the Woods and At Home!


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