After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly 3 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliens - as he later put it, "It was clear my people needed me"). They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, 24-hour dental-floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item.
Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I'm a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth. The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man's attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but it is also an extended, if at times bemused, love letter to the homeland he has returned to after 20 years away.
©2012 Bill Bryson (P)2012 Random House Audio
Writer, painter and unabashed romantic with passion for history and mystery.
Bryson fans and strangers to Bryson alike may be misled as I was by the advertised description of these pieces as recent. Depends on how you define recent! Do not expect pithy observations on this century's catastrophes, elections, current TSA procedures, celebrity culture, and/or texting, tweeting, FBing. For instance, he writes with wonder of such artifacts as microwave pancakes. Brilliant and au courant not. Microwave pancakes are hardly a new invention. Having been to England myself this century I know High Street food shops and the big chains there sell them and have for years. A quibble? No. As it turns out, these pieces were written some time ago - decades ago? However, Bryson still amuses and William Roberts captures the quirky tone of Bill Bryson's ambling style well. Old Bryson is better than no Bryson.
In the wake of all this fiscal cliff drama and other continual angry political stories, it was refreshing to get a different perspective all be-it-dated; many of the issues are still relevant.
In addition the narrator had the perfect timing, which I can imagine was difficult for this type of book.
I like Bill Bryson, but most of this material is too out of date. I gave up listening about half way through.
It would be helpful if Audible included the original date of publication in their descriptions.
The thing I love most about Bill Bryson's audio books is his narration style. Without his narration, it's just another book. His intonation and whit are unmatchable. If I had noticed that this book wasn't narrated by him, I wouldn't have bought it, plain and simple.
Some of the stories were quite interesting, and his observations are always witty. I particularly enjoyed the parts about immigration and the death penalty.
But, it's essentially just a book about his massive list of pet peeves and mild grievances. Probably will get one of his more scholarly books next time.
The words have the familiar ring of Bill Bryson's humor, but the sarcastic delivery makes them feel like an overly emotional rant. An intolerable listen. Couldn't get past the first half hour.
Yes, it is very funny, and he puts in words many of my same thoughts on topics like TV advertising and other strange things of American life.
His reading, his punch lines, his working in some history and facts that you likely didn't know, but now have at your fingertips because of his original way of describing them.
The column on the missing Lear Jet, but a dozen or more touched me in special ways.
No, it is easy to break apart as it is actually columns that appeared in a British paper, so each chapter stands along. Although they are all so interesting to me, I would have enjoyed listening to them all in one sitting. Others might not.
Bryson is a 5-Star author and also is a great reader of his own material. A really rare thing. I have listened to almost all his audio books. When he doesn't read them, the stand in reader sounds almost like him, which is a huge plus. These are books you can listen to over and over -- light enough on content, but there's enough that it leaves impressions on the listener and adds to the listeners feeling that they have "been along as a guest" on Bill's travels He had no peer that I know of in that category.
I'm a Bill Bryson fan and have read or listened to many of his book. I've enjoyed them all except for this one. It's a collection of columns he wrote for a British newspaper, a former employer, after his return to the U.S. Time and again he plays his topics for easy laughs, and there are times when his tales stretch credulity — e.g., his visit to a barbershop and the debate that ensues among the barbers over which type of celebrity cut would most best flatter him. He is coasting like a standup comic on a slow night.
This was the first audio book I haven't finished. I should have paid attention to the reviews I read, which said it was dated. It was also dull, a series of magazine columns written for a British audience, full of mock outrage about such horrors as the vapidity of US TV. There was a sweet column about how no one in New Hampshire locks their cars or houses (I wonder if that is still the case), but most of it was just tedious. I started skipping segments and finally just gave up on it.
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