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

The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
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's review
Jun 02, 12

Read in June, 2012

I've been in most of the same areas of the country as Bill Bryson including the poverty stricken hollows, the small towns where most of the stores were boarded up, the deep South with its shotgun shacks set amongst the cotton fields, small New England towns and the western towns miles from nowhere. I have to admit that while part of this book were humorous, other parts, really too many for my taste, showed a cynical side of the author time after time that I thought was undeserved. So many Americans just get by, don't have a lot and live the best way they can. I felt Bryson insulted them because they were poor and uneducated. At different times he retraced steps going to places he had visited as a child on vacation with his family. Certainly a child's perception of place and what it means is much different from an adult's. This seemed to be most bothersome to Bryson when he visited "tourist traps," say, for example, the area just outside Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Most heavily visited national parks suffer the same fate. While it's unfortunate that such unbridled commercialism despoils areas adjacent to these otherwise spectacular areas,even in 1990 when the book was published, this was nothing new. It almost seemed to me that, in this book, Bill Bryson, had in his head an ideal American town he was looking for he called "Amalgam" and, in a couple of places he even owned a particular town was "close." Unfortunately, it seemed everywhere else and the inhabitants who lived there or the folks were were visiting had to be criticized. I found this attitude disturbing based on my own "blue highways" experiences when I have gotten off the beaten path and discovered that most everywhere I have been in this land of ours has some beauty and something to recommend it.

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