Zuberino's Reviews > Lost Continent

Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
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's review
Dec 13, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, middle-america, americana, travel, humour, small-town, 1980s, journeys, american-literature, missing
Read in March, 2012

Bryson does two things very well in this book, besides his trademark humour which is happily a constant in this and every other book he's ever written. He captures the spirit of the land at a very specific time in its recent history: 1987, the high water mark of the Reaganite project. Time and again, he is left demoralized by the mindless affluenza that was the hallmark of American society during the latter half of the 1980s.

More broadly, Bryson leaves a depressingly accurate description of the tawdriness and vulgarity of America's built environment - a cement desert of motels, burger joints, gas stations, strip malls, freeways and parking lots repeated ad nauseam throughout the Lower 48 - that is painfully recognizable even 25 years later. If you have ever wondered at the wanton debasement that has been visited on the land by its greedy natives, if you have ever been saddened by the pitiless ugliness that surrounds you in America's cities, towns and suburbs, then surely this book is for you.

Afterwards, read Edward Abbey and Philip Connors to cleanse your soul and to give thanks for the national parks and wildernesses that still do a stalwart job of protecting nature's beauty and grandeur against a hostile population.

PS This was Bryson's first book. The opening lines - "I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to." - must constitute one of the great introductions by any writer in contemporary literature.
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02/28/2016 marked as: read

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

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message 1: by Sim (new) - added it

Sim Really enjoyed this review. I've been meaning to read this book for a while now - I think I'll pick it up this weekend.

message 2: by Travelin (new) - added it

Travelin Didn't know this was his first book. I dumped it because he spent too much time in lazy denigration of the UK he chose instead.

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