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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.

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  •  
    Rachel 08-10-14
    Rachel 08-10-14 Member Since 2013
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    "There are better Bill Bryson audiobooks"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Have the older, kinder Bill Bryson go back in time and take this journey. While some of his commentary was both hilarious and heartwarming, like many other reviewers, I was startled at how mean-spirited this book could be in comparison to Bryson's later works. He is comparatively positive about Iowa and the Midwest, as he waxes nostalgic about his childhood in Des Moines (and as an Iowan myself, I both confirm his assessment of our state and breathe a sigh of relief that his memories were good ones!) His commentary on other regions, particularly the South and Appalachia, was gratingly negative. Perhaps he was still in the process of finding his comedic voice, but I often found myself sympathizing with the unassuming and often kind people he was lampooning. The reader choice did not help matters any.


    What other book might you compare The Lost Continent to and why?

    Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe.


    What didn’t you like about William Roberts’s performance?

    This is Bryson at his most...curmudgeonly...and William Roberts was perhaps not the best narrator for this task. My first encounter with this book was of the dead trees variety; I noticed the negative tone then, but Roberts seemed to draw it out in the worst way, making the narrator seem even more smug, arrogant and rude, when Bryson's voice tends to be more self-deprecating and light-hearted. The advantage of this version is that it is unabridged; perhaps I was better off with my old beaten-up paperback, read in my head with Bryson's less irritating voice.


    Was The Lost Continent worth the listening time?

    If you are a Bryson fan, perhaps try to find a version that he reads himself.

    On the whole, I would still recommend the book, but not as an introduction to Bill Bryson if you haven't read any of his stuff before. He's less of a jerk in his later books, so if you've read Neither Here nor There, A Walk in the Woods, or Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, you'll approach The Lost Continent in a more forgiving mood. This is his first major book, and he's still honing his voice.

    It's also worth listening to simply because you can see the connections between his travels and topics that he covers in his later works, for instance, his near-visit to the Biltmore Mansion vis-a-vis his lengthy treatment of the Vanderbilt family in At Home: A History of Private Life. Don't expect that level of research in this book--this is primarily a travelogue--but it is interesting to get a glimpse of the context behind some of his more recent nonfiction books.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas 01-31-13
    Thomas 01-31-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Count's stop laughing superbly read ."
    What made the experience of listening to The Lost Continent the most enjoyable?

    So life like with a lots of humor


    What other book might you compare The Lost Continent to and why?

    Down under by Bill Bryson (as well)


    What about William Roberts’s performance did you like?

    He is a great reader by any standard.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 08-11-14
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 08-11-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Written by Bryson's evil twin"

    I have listened to every one of Bryson's audio books here on Audible.com.

    I really like Bryson. He makes even the most mundane topics engrossing.

    And it's not that he completely hates America. A Short Walk where he talks about hiking the Appalacian Trail is wonderful and very positive.

    But in this early book his nastiness on American is not just palpable, it's suffocating.

    In addition, instead of Bryson's warm, folksy reading that I have come to enjoy, William Roberts's reading makes even warm thoughts on America come out snide and snarky.

    I pushed myself to listen to the whole thing so I would feel entitled to write a review.

    But if I could, I would have rewound the tape to erase it from my brain.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason 05-26-12
    Jason 05-26-12 Member Since 2010

    Hi.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I had no idea who he was."

    My girlfriend suggested I listen to this and I had my doubts, but I figured I had little to lose as I am always looking for a good book to listen to. I listened to this while doing a 1000km drive through my home province and a lot of what was being said really sank in and made me laugh. It's a dated book but very good.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cathy Midrand, South Africa 03-15-11
    Cathy Midrand, South Africa 03-15-11
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    "Bill Bryson does America like no-one else!"

    Bill Bryson's ability to sum up a character in a few well-chosen words, combined with his insight into the American psyche, make this a highly enjoyable and easy-to-listen-to book. I loved it - from beginning to end.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kasandra BeachleyUnited Kingdom 01-09-09
    Kasandra BeachleyUnited Kingdom 01-09-09
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    "Every bit as good"

    As all the others he's released. Insightful and funny.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike 02-13-14
    Mike 02-13-14
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    "Not one of my favorites"

    This is one of Bryson's earliest books, published in the late 80's. As such, it lacks much of the humor that balances his snarkiness, leaving a book that seems to have been written by a curmudgeon. Americans have a lot of issues, but I found the book mean spirited. I also couldn't figure why he chose to travel during the cold, rainy season when some of the prettiest parts of the west weren't accessible. Maybe he wanted a better comparison with life in England.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Audubon, NJ, United States 06-05-14
    James Audubon, NJ, United States 06-05-14 Member Since 2015
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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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lou Ann Dickson TEMPE, AZ, US 05-04-14
    Lou Ann Dickson TEMPE, AZ, US 05-04-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Bill's sophmoric, condescending journey"

    As a longtime devotee of Bill Bryson, I was hugely disappointed in this book. Mr. Bryson somehow left his sense of humor on the dock at Liverpool and returned to America expecting to be disappointed, disillused and dismayed. He was not disappointed. His journey throughout the heartland, south and west of the United States is related in condescending, humorless, and unforgiving fashion that leaves the reader wondering why he did not catch the next plane back to the UK. Predictably nothing he finds approaches the quality, charm, beauty or intelligence of the UK or Europe for that matter. It is an unhappy journey amongst people he finds it impossible to respect and through a land barren of charm or beauty. Worst of all, Mr. Bryson does not narrate this but it is done by Mr. Roberts who seems to turn even the slightest bit of humor into a long, cold look down his long English nose. I couldn't wait to finish this audiobok and would not recommend it to anyone not looking to bash the US at every turn.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Kuhl MD NY 07-19-15
    J. Kuhl MD NY 07-19-15 Member Since 2013

    Mother, doctor, reader

    ratings
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    "Much less than I hoped"

    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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Mr. S. Turner
    UK
    3/20/15
    Overall
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Happy Shopper
    FRINTON ON SEA, United Kingdom
    12/4/14
    Overall
    Performance
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    "A great trip around 80s USA"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Lost Continent to be better than the print version?

    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.


    What does William Roberts bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I couldn't listen to this in one sitting, but on the plus side it kept me going quite a while!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • forever reading
    East Sussex
    7/7/14
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    Performance
    Story
    "Bill Bryson says what we'd like to say but don't!"
    If you could sum up The Lost Continent in three words, what would they be?

    witty, incisive, educational(!)


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The USA - such a diverse country


    What about William Roberts’s performance did you like?

    Spot-on. His voice matches Mr Bryson's acerbic wit perfectly.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    You won't believe the things Bill Bryson sees!


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nicky Beet
    5/26/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "funny in most parts"
    What made the experience of listening to The Lost Continent the most enjoyable?

    Bryson has an easy&enjoyable style that makes it easy to get into his books


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Laugh


    Any additional comments?

    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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • review name
    London, UK
    12/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A great read"
    If you could sum up The Lost Continent in three words, what would they be?

    Funny, informative, interesting


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Bill tells the story of his travels so well. There is humor and facts, which makes for a really good listen.


    Have you listened to any of William Roberts’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I listened to Down Under by Bryson also narrated by Robert's and he narrates well, very enjoyable to listen to.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The book was very well written and kept me listening for longer than I had time for.


    Any additional comments?

    Bill Bryson writes the most enjoyable and interesting factual books and travel journals. Well worth a listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sally
    KIDDERMINSTER, United Kingdom
    4/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • 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

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