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

The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
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Sep 30, 13

Read in November, 2012

I had to abandon this one around Chapter 4, unfortunately. I really enjoyed A Walk in the Woods, and find Bill Bryson hilarious .... except, apparently, when he's writing about women. You wouldn't think that within 40ish pages a travel writer could cause such insurmountable disappointment in a reader, but it definitely happened to me with this book. The types of things that make you lose interest and faith in a writer....

Page 6
"Iowa women are almost always sensationally overweight––you see them at Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines on Saturdays, clammy and meaty in their shorts and halter tops, looking a little like elephants dressed in children's clothes, yelling at their kids, calling out names like Dwayne and Shauna. Jack Kerouac, of all people, thought that Iowa women were the prettiest in the country, but I don't think he ever went to Merle Hay Mall on a Saturday. I will say this, however––and it's a strange, strange thing––the teenaged daughters of these fat women are always utterly delectable, as soft and gloriously rounded and naturally fresh-smelling as a basket of fruit. I don't know what it is that happens to them, but it must be awful to marry one of those nubile cuties knowing that there is a time bomb ticking away in her that will at some unknown date make her bloat out into something huge and grotesque, presumably all of a sudden and without much notice, like a self-inflating raft from which the pin has been yanked."

Page 8

"In Iowa you are the center of attention, the most interesting thing to hit town since a tornado carried off old Frank Sprinkel and his tractor last May. Everybody you meet acts like he would gladly give you his last beer and let you sleep with his sister."

Page 29
"Feeling self-conscious, I went into a dark place called Vern's Tap and took a seat at the bar. I was the only customer, apart from an old man in the corner with only one leg. The barmaid was friendly. She wore butterfly glasses and a beehive hairdo. You could see in an instance that she had been the good-time girl since about 1931. She had "Ready for Sex" written all over her face, but "Better Bring a Paper Bag" written all over her body."

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Maureen Wow, I read this in my younger days and wasn't bothered by it but it sure rankles me now, especially when you group those passages together.


Lindsay I know! It just disheartened me so much which is too bad because I was so looking forward to it.

I suspect many books/movies that I loved when I was younger would disappoint/shock me now. Example that a co-worker recently brought up: Beauty and the Beast. A dude who Belle hates essentially kidnaps her and keeps her hostage for a really long time until she eventually falls in love with him and marries him. wooooaahhh


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