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 interest in listening without the author as reader.
It is the author's cadence and nuance that makes his books come alive.
My fiancee and I got this to listen to for a road trip, but while we enjoyed the opening chapters, I think we both quickly lost interest as the mockery in the writing became less affectionate and somewhat more genuine. The book is also somewhat dated by this time and these two things together made us lose interest.
Only Bryson can make dull places interesting and even hilarious at times. His spot-on descriptions of small-town America make people and places come to life in this most enjoyable learning adventure.
This is a great travel story - as are all of Bill Bryson's travel books. His writing is amusing AND informative - I find it hard to get enough of him!
A huge disappointment to have a dramatic narrator - William Roberts - read this. Much of the wry humor is lost with over-acting. I am not sure I can finish the book - I've invested 5+ hours of listening time. Be sure to listen to the audio sample first before purchasing. I thought that great writing would make for great listening and it's not true here. I hope Mr Bryson will consider narrating all of his books. Otherwise I'll pick up printed copies because they are as wonderful as hearing his voice read his own stories.
I absolutely would! He's got a wonderful voice and for a dramatic reading, he would be a great choice.
This is Bill Bryson's first real travel writing/memoir, a tour of the continental US from the late 90s. The seeds of his talent with writing about history and natural science are there, but he doesn't have the research tools or confidence in his voice about such matters to even attempt what he accomplishes in his later works. Instead he relies much more on tone and humor, which is fine. But it's a lesser work.
It is at his best when he remembers his recently deceased father and childhood (though that is explored much more directly in Thunderbolt Kid) and as a kind of time capsule of the late 20th century, but I would put it near the bottom of a recommended Bryson reading list. In A Sunburnt Country and A Short History and At Home are all superior, and A Walk in the Woods is the bridge between styles.
Bill Bryson is one of my favorite authors. He's often irreverent, but this book was exceedingly negative and opinionated. I can only guess he was going through a bad period in his life. I hope he snaps out of it. On the other hand, one of the most memorable books I've ever read is his "Short History of Nearly Everything". Great author, disappointing book.
My sister and I listened to this as we traversed the US over 40 days in the summer of 2015, traveling through 29 states. Bryson's recount of his own journey as a prodical son returned made for a fascinating and enthralling listen, the juxtaposition against our own virgin adventure in the USA resulted in some moments of sureal familiarity with places he had visited which we found ourselves in. I would highly recommend this audio book to anyone contemplating a trip across the US, or anyone who would like to illicit some nostalgia for one they have taken in the past.
I already am angry. Bryson has always been my favorite but he clearly hates America. Wish he would write about it even half as pleasant as he does England. Plus, he wrote this book 30 years after the trip, how much is true memory? Narrator was a horrible selection. Bryson is an excellent narrator but this guy's voice is unlike any Bryson book. Bill what is happening to your humor filled, interesting writing?? We will see if I change review
Must be one of Bill's early books, I have enjoyed all his books up to now.
Bill tours the country in an old car and criticizes every town.
No humor, just hates everything. The people are too nice, the people are mean, everything is uninteresting.
The narrator captures the spirit of the book completely. I would not have liked him except he fit the material so well
I will try to only listen to Bill's newer books
Mother, doctor, reader
Too negative and critical. Like hearing the worst side of me out loud, sarcastic and judgemental about America and Americans. After reading A Short History of Nearly Everything I was so enamored of Bryson's wit and wisdom I couldn't wait to read more and from this book I hoped for a more creative and humorous perspective to
Improve my own
"A bit rude and pompus"
I find him to be very rude and nasty, he probably thinks he's being funny but it just comes across as offensive to most of his country, other countries and even some religions
I have always wanted to take an RV across America but now I'm almost put off
Depressing listening. He grumbled too much. Not as good as 'a walk in the woods'.
"William Robert was born to read Bryson books"
There was nothing about this book I did not like. Robert injects perfect expression at the right moments.. his humorous expressions are ecstatically funny.
His voice is perfect for Bryson's dry witty descriptions of each place. I much prefer Robert's sometimes cartoonishly expressive voice over Brysons somewhat ineffectual tepid performance
"Funny dry humour"
A great book that I would never have read but having to read to me made it very entertaining indeed!
"Another classic from Bryson!"
Bryson and Roberts are the perfect combination! This travel diary is incredibly funny, witty, and honest, as it lightheartedly highlights the upsides and downsides of American small town life. I loved every minute of it. Highly recommended!!
fantastic story and beautifully read. was like I was there with him travelling around America you don't hear about
"Great. Enjoyed a lot."
A masterful telling of a lovely road trip. William Roberts is a great narrator for Bill Bryson's prose.
I'm a great fan of Bill Bryson and particularly this book as it was the first I read some 10 years ago
It still makes me laugh out loud
"The wit and description of each day"
I am new to audio books as my eyesight is failing fast and I love books I am very grateful to you all ..I have enjoyed this story and I smiled all the way through America I will certainly listen to Bill Bryson again
"Relaxing and informative"
Perhaps not a action packed page turner, but an interesting read. Good to listen to while commuting. If you like Bill Bryson's other books this is a very good bet!
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