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The Lost Continent: Travels In Small Town America | [Bill Bryson]

The Lost Continent: Travels In Small Town America

Hardly anyone ever leaves Des Moines, Iowa. But Bill Bryson did, and after 10 years in England he decided to go home, to a foreign country. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Hardly anyone ever leaves Des Moines, Iowa. But Bill Bryson did, and after 10 years in England he decided to go home, to a foreign country.

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.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (160 )
5 star
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3.6 (98 )
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3.7 (98 )
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Performance
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  •  
    James Audubon, NJ, United States 06-05-14
    James Audubon, NJ, United States 06-05-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not my favorite B.B. book."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No. I read this book years ago, and thought I liked it. Ive read most of Bill Bryson's books, and consider myself a fan. Listening to Lost Continent, I realized it is much more mean spirited then I remembered. I was very surprised, and a little disappointed.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Mr. Bryson does find some interesting things along the way on his road trip, but has very little charity for when his expectations are not met. I guess the tittle "Lost Continent" should have clued me in that his opinion of the trip was mostly negative.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Mr. Bryson revels in mocking several of the places he visits. He does this in many of his travel logs, but seldom so often or with such enthusiasm.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    I read this book once before, and remembered it being more light hearted and fun. Hearing it in the author's own voice somehow makes it seem more serious and his attacks more vicious.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bjorn Pleasanton, CA, USA 06-02-14
    Bjorn Pleasanton, CA, USA 06-02-14 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bill should always read his own books"
    Would you try another book from Bill Bryson and/or William Roberts?

    Yes. I read all of Bill Bryson's books.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Bill.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of William Roberts?

    Bill Bryson


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William J Mc Gowan Staten Island, NY USA 05-29-14
    William J Mc Gowan Staten Island, NY USA 05-29-14 Member Since 2013
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    "His Worst Book"
    Would you try another book from Bill Bryson and/or William Roberts?

    I have, and enjoyed them all.


    Has The Lost Continent turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, because I heard his others first.


    How could the performance have been better?

    It was fine, but I do prefer the author's.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Lost Continent?

    Pretty much all of it.


    Any additional comments?

    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!"

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Knutsson Northern California 02-18-14
    K. Knutsson Northern California 02-18-14 Member Since 2007
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    "Not what I have come to expect from Bryson!"
    What would have made The Lost Continent better?

    Slow paced and not with the cleverness I'm use to from Bryson.


    What could Bill Bryson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    He should have written the book much later in his career!


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sundiegojc San Diego, CA USA 01-03-14
    Sundiegojc San Diego, CA USA 01-03-14 Member Since 2012

    SundiegoJC

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    "Snide, mean-spirited, and humorless."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Not having listened to it in the first place. I have deeply enjoyed several other Bryson books, but this one was a horrible surprise.


    What was most disappointing about Bill Bryson’s story?

    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.


    How could the performance have been better?

    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.


    What character would you cut from The Lost Continent?

    Bill Bryson


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vince San Francisco, CA, United States 12-05-13
    Vince San Francisco, CA, United States 12-05-13
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    "Love Bryson, but this one feels dated"
    What disappointed you about The Lost Continent?

    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.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Bill Bryson again?

    Yes, of course. He's a wonderful writer in general, and even this one isn't *that* bad.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    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.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Lost Continent?

    No specific scenes, more a general tone complaint.


    Any additional comments?

    Bryson is great, but as a fan, I'd check out other titles first.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave LAKEWOOD, CO, United States 12-26-13
    Dave LAKEWOOD, CO, United States 12-26-13 Member Since 2004
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    "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives?"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by William Roberts – was your favorite?

    The narration was very good. But even a great narrator can only do so much with a weak story.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    His observations about Iowa City were dead-on. Some of his facts about locations were interesting - but too infrequent.


    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-17 of 17 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Gustav
    London, United Kingdom
    8/19/12
    Overall
    "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....

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-11 of 11 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

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