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.
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.
Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe.
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.
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.
So life like with a lots of humor
Down under by Bill Bryson (as well)
He is a great reader by any standard.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
"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.
"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....
Report Inappropriate Content