In an ageing Chevrolet Chevette, he drove nearly 14,000 miles through 38 states to compile this hilarious and perceptive state-of-the-nation report on small-town America.
From the Deep South to the Wild West, from Elvis' birthplace through to Custer's Last Stand, Bryson visits places he re-named Dullard, Coma, and Doldrum (so the residents don't sue or come after him with baseball bats). But his hopes of finding the American dream end in a nightmare of greed, ignorance, and pollution. This is a wickedly witty and savagely funny assessment of a country lost to itself, and to him.
©1989 Bill Bryson; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
no, I would recommend the abridged version as it's read by the author Bill Bryson.
all of bill bryson books...as long as they're narrated by him.
Yes. I read all of Bill Bryson's books.
Bill has always done a great job narrating his books. This book suffered for not having him do it. His voice adds so much to the experience. There is a tone to his work that is just difficult for anyone else to pull off. While William Roberts made a good attempt, without Bill giving his unique interpretation of his text, this book came off sounding like a long rant. He complained about just about everything he saw and everyone he met. The narrator did not come off as a likable character. Instead, he just sounded arrogant and snarky. That's too bad, because I can just imagine Bill putting just the right subtle spin on the text to keep it from sounding that way. I hope he will narrate his other books in the future. He is great at it.
I have, and enjoyed them all.
No, because I heard his others first.
It was fine, but I do prefer the author's.
Pretty much all of it.
It was painfully obvious that Mr. Bryson was playing up to the pre-conceived notions of his British audience. Throughout the commentary Americans were damned if they did something, or damned if they didn't. There was no pleasing Mr. Bryson. I paid my money, so I finished the book. But it was a chore. Mr. Bryson and I are both lucky that this was not the first of his works that I have read or listen to. If it had, I would not have taken a chance on more. My first was The Home. Amazing! I have listened to or read all of the others, including his most recent about the summer of 1927. Excellent. I look forward to his next release.This brings me to my suggestion to Audible: Delete this book from your list. I purchased it on the strength of his other works. You, therefore, gained revenue from just one book. If someone buys this one first and is turned off to Mr. Bryson, who comes off as the world-class pompous prig, Audible could potentially lose the revenue from the six other works that I have enjoyed.I'll quote Mrs. Bryson to capsulize my synopsis of this book: "Bitch,bitch,bitch!"
Slow paced and not with the cleverness I'm use to from Bryson.
He should have written the book much later in his career!
Not having listened to it in the first place. I have deeply enjoyed several other Bryson books, but this one was a horrible surprise.
His persistent and humorless attacks on everything American and Americans themselves were a surprising and unwelcome discovery in listening to this book. Even his almost non-existent acknowledments of American virtures were negated by constant caricatures of obese, ignorant, and bigoted Americans. Americans can and all too many times do exhibit such negative traits. Bryson seems to paint every American that he encounters with this brush.
Even assumming that there was any irony in Bryson's observations, the narrator for this book seems to be incapable of conveying it, in no small part because of the smouldering vitriol in Bryson's prose.
Bill Bryson left America to reside in the U.K. years ago. He returned to this country (for reasons that I cannot fathom from listening to this book) with a palpable disdain for America. I have listened to at least a half dozen of his other books. He has written often and well on so many non-American topics and locales, but his antipathy towards his native land was a palpable obstruction to any enjoyment of this book.
If the author made an attempt to conceal his obvious dislike for small town America.
The author clearly thinks that he is better than all these poor unfortunate souls who simply are not smart enough to leave their small towns. He left his small town and went to London...I guess that alone qualifies him to judge others. What a small unfortunate man.
Excellent work by the narrator. I will look for other books read by this talented man.
I've read and loved many Bryson books - 1927, In a Sunburnt Country - but this one reads like the petulant college freshman returning after a semester abroad with an affected accent, ready to tell his fellow Americans everything that's wrong with their country and why Europe is so much better. It's strange, this one's actually much funnier than I thought Bryson could be, but the tone is just off. He goes off on random tangents about everything and only about half of his gripes are interesting. The rest of the gripes are just... gripey. I enjoy snark, but most of this is just grumbley.
Yes, of course. He's a wonderful writer in general, and even this one isn't *that* bad.
I like his voice, but he over-acts. I prefer the narrator to read, not act. This guy is definitely acting and adding specific character choices to every line read, whereas I'd prefer he just read it mostly flat and let me add my own.
No specific scenes, more a general tone complaint.
Bryson is great, but as a fan, I'd check out other titles first.
The whole premise of the book is weak. Driving around the middle of the country, avoiding freeways and stopping at tourist stops and eating at local diners appears to have not created any interesting insights by the author. It certainly did not make an interesting read for me. The authors focus on food quality and waitresses seemed like he should be writing reviews for DDD (diners, drive-ins and dives) on the Food Network. I have served my time living in Iowa and have lived in small towns in the 'fly-over' states, and I have visited many of the locations mentioned by the author. But I did not find his observations particularly novel or interesting. I am not offering any redneck/patriotic defensive about this part of the country but the author seemed to only reinforce out-dated stereotypes and the whole book seemed out of date (circa late 1980's early 1990's?). If you live on the coasts/large cities and have never ventured out to explore small town/middle-America - then you may find this book new and entertaining. Otherwise if you are a refugee from middle America - skip it - you already know this stuff.
The narration was very good. But even a great narrator can only do so much with a weak story.
His observations about Iowa City were dead-on. Some of his facts about locations were interesting - but too infrequent.
"A great read"
Funny, informative, interesting
Bill tells the story of his travels so well. There is humor and facts, which makes for a really good listen.
I listened to Down Under by Bryson also narrated by Robert's and he narrates well, very enjoyable to listen to.
The book was very well written and kept me listening for longer than I had time for.
Bill Bryson writes the most enjoyable and interesting factual books and travel journals. Well worth a listen.
"Not for me"
Having never read a Bill Bryson book I decided to give this audiobook a try. I did not enjoy this and only managed to get half way through, I did not enjoy the content which I found uninteresting and the narration was very dull. If I had the time to look how to get a refund I would definitely request one.
"Funny but pointless"
This is a funny book, and it makes you laugh. Job done, it gets four stars. But, there is nothing extra in the book. There are no real insights into the American small town. Most of the book is about Bill himself. Everything is focused on him and his memories. Still, made me laugh....
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