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.
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.
if you loved A Walk in the Woods, purchasing this book is not going to satisfy your desire for more of the same. Here, Bryson is not witty but mean-spirited, not charming but ignoble. His casual sexism and base observations seem to reflect a very different man than is presented in A Walk in the Woods and At Home.
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
I noticed an occasional flash of smug condescension in Bryson's "A Walk In the Woods" but this book...wow. I could only listen to a few minutes. His arrogant meanness is so off-putting that I wondered if this is the same person who wrote "A Short History of Nearly Everything", one of my absolute favorites. "Cretinous Conservatives"? Really? We know that all Democrats are liberal and good, while all Republicans are conservative, stupid, and evil, but could you have waited at least until the second page before you began spewing your superior political awareness? And the sneering descriptions of his hometown from the very first sentence- this was a waste of my time and money. Audible should have a Toxic Warning Label on this cruel crap.
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
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!
Utterly brilliant, I could barely put it down. William Roberts reads Bryson's work like a pro.
"Love it, William Roberts is brilliant"
Perfect narration. Listened to it 5 times so far. Wish William Roberts ready all if brysons work. He really brings it to life.
"A great trip around 80s USA"
I very much enjoyed listening to The Lost Continent, but don't consider it the best of the audible versions of Bill Bryson's books. I preferred reading the print version, but it was still interesting, and full of facts and funny characters.
In other Bryson books I've enjoyed listening to William Roberts, but not so much in this one, he seems to over act a little which is unusual and rather annoying.
I couldn't listen to this in one sitting, but on the plus side it kept me going quite a while!
"Bill Bryson says what we'd like to say but don't!"
witty, incisive, educational(!)
The USA - such a diverse country
Spot-on. His voice matches Mr Bryson's acerbic wit perfectly.
You won't believe the things Bill Bryson sees!
I have had this book on tape which has worn out due to the number of times I have played it so it was a joy to discover this on download. It still makes me laugh - don't listen whilst driving unless you don't mind the odds looks from other motorists.
"funny in most parts"
Bryson has an easy&enjoyable style that makes it easy to get into his books
Im assuming it is just due to the time the book was written but there are several passages that just seemed sexist or condesending.that aside it was a good book
"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.
"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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