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

The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
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's review
Mar 30, 09

bookshelves: travel, humor, autobiographical-novel, travelogue
Recommended for: Americans, Midwesterners, People coming to America and those that want to 'get outta here'
Read in March, 2009

Ha, oh America!

As much as I hesitated to read a travelogue about America while living abroad (I mean, shouldn't I be reading about my host country), my diminishing pile of books from home lead me to this humorous Bryson tale.

I've now had a couple of encounters with Bryson's writing and each time, seem to grow more and more fond of his haphazard style of not only traveling but writing as well. How many other authors dare pay tribute to their deceased housmaid in the middle of a book or drop in random facts about world happenings in irrelevant places? Now that's the type of stuff that keeps you on your toes!

As for the undying cynicism, well, what do you expect? The man left America to live in Britain of all places! I mean, come on, obviously he's going to find Friday night football and town hall meetings a bit trite!

Personally I find his accounts of each state absolutely hilarious! Bryson's omnipresent cynicism and nack for pointing out the obvious (with out regards to political correctness) bring a bit of truth to 'small town America' that is probably often lost or overlooked in any other true 'guidebook.' To say that that the author is honest about what he feels would be, well, an extreme understatement! Each trip through each state is as steroetypically perfect as is the idea of a fat white man calling a long circular drive across an entire continent with no particular destination a 'vacation.'

To find this book any less than humurous one would have to maintain a cynicism much more deeply rooted than Bryson portrays his own to be, or, perhaps, you might just have to come from one of the dozens of small towns that he makes fun of along the way!
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Quotes Adam Liked

Bill Bryson
“In this he was like most Midwesterners. Directions are very important to them. They have an innate need to be oriented, even in their anecdotes. Any story related by a Midwesterner will wander off at some point into a thicket of interior monologue along the lines of "We were staying at a hotel that was eight blocks northeast of the state capital building. Come to think of it, it was northwest. And I think it was probably more like nine blocks. And this woman without any clothes on, naked as the day she was born except for a coonskin caop, came running at us from the southwest. . . or was it the southeast?" If there are two Midwesterns present and they both witnessed the incident, you can just about write off the anecdote because they will spend the rest of the afternoon arguing points of the compass and will never get back to the original story. You can always tell a Midwestern couple in Europe because they will be standing on a traffic island in the middle of a busy intersection looking at a windblown map and arguing over which way is west. European cities, with their wandering streets and undisciplined alleys, drive Midwesterners practically insane.”
Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America

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