A quick read...it totally sucked me in. Now I've got a serious case of wanderlust and desperately want to take a long roadtrip. Too bad gas is so much more expensive now than when Bryson took his trip!
He's very cynical, which is fine for a short article but very tiring for a long book. It started to seem like he was purposely driving around looking for things not to like. It was like being on vacation with my dad. Not fun.
This book: part humor, part travelogue, narrates Bryson's road trip across the United States and back again. Bryson travels without strict itinerary, and with frequent stops in small towns across the country. The narrative is written in classic Bryson style, with frequent diversions to explain the origin of many of life's oddities, and with constant sideline commentary. As is usually the case with Bryson, the narrative is illuminating, amusing, and shows Bryson's sense of adventure. It was a pleasure to read. Yes, Bryson is frequently critical, but it's important to note that he's an equal-opportunity offender. Wherever he goes he brings his decidedly sarcastic wit, but he also balances criticism with admiration. This is not a book with a weighty message about humanity or morality, but it is a fun read to pick up and put down at leisure. And the ability to dive in and out is one of the beautiful things about this book; one can enjoy it and put it aside at will, and it takes little time to become reengaged in Bryson's prose.
I've enjoyed many of Bryson's books and knew that he didn't hold back when critiquing the people, places and things he's encountered, but somehow I was saddened to find page after page of his disappointment in all things American. Yep, he's an American, but somehow his time in Britain his given him license to be snobbish and elitist. Still and yet, the book was entertaining with a number of passages that made me laugh out loud. While the cynicism became grating mid-book, it was still an enjoyable enough read, if only because I had been to many of the places he degrades and have shared his frustration with the commercialization and crassness of tourist culture - but I don't have to write a book to tell everyone that I am "better than that".
Bryson takes a 38-state driving tour of the USA. Somehow he manages to find a lot of towns that are boring and bothersome; but he writes about them with such sincerity that you find yourself laughing about his travels.
This book took me back to my own trips going across the country by car with me family when I was a child. Although some of it is a bit dated it was still a fun read. Bryson has a way of phrasing things that makes me laugh out loud. I loved his time spent in the south trying to understand the locals. A fast easy read and worth the time.
Finished reading this one today and have to say I really loved it! Yes, Bryson can be condescending and arrogant, but overall I thought his narrative about his trip through America was pretty much dead-on and most of all hilarious. I was laughing out loud in some places such as where he describes shopping at K-mart and the people that shop there. I recently moved across country and I can definitely identify with a lot of Bryson's observations - such as how America seems to be turning charming small towns into strip malls and fast food restaurants. I can sadly say that about my home town in Utah that I recently moved back to after being in San Francisco and the Washington, DC area for the past 25 years. Of course, costs have gone up since Bryson made his trip in 1989! He was complaining about the cost of a hotel, food, etc., which all seemed quite cheap by today's standards. This is about the 4th Bryson book I have read and I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of his travel adventures!
I really like Bill Bryon, but this was so off-putting to me. His writing about the South I found quite offensive, and having lived in some of the places he mentions, I can tell you that many of his facts and details are wrong. Not to mention, his opinions of people in the south really was out-right offensive. I was very put-off by this book and now don't want to read any more by him.
I was sorely disappointed with this book. Having read A Walk In the Woods and enjoyed it thoroughly, I was expecting the same from this book. I was hoping for a humorous, informative look at small town America. Was I got was a cynical, boring, repetitive slamming of Americans and their lack of authentic style. A waste of time, in my opinion. I rarely stop a book midway, but this one I did. I am guessing this review will not help it fly off my shelf, but that's OK.
I eagerly began 'The Lost Continent' after previously reading 'A Walk in the Woods'. Eloquent as always, Bill does what he does best - paints a portrait, this time of small town America, using our childhood memories as a canvas, his cynicism as a paintbrush, and his choice of words for color and texture.
While I somewhat enjoyed the book, if Bill was attempting to make us feel like we were living out of a suit case then he succeeded. I found the flow of the book choppy, pages about some tiny detail, like Playboy, yet in other places he travels through Idaho in less than 3 pages. Then again, thats what always makes his writing fun, lengthy thoughts about everyday things that most people wouldn't give an extra second considering. However, in many places throughout it felt as if the point he was expounding upon felt contrived, as if the details from the trip weren't enough to fill the book so he needed more filler.
Most all of the places he visits East of the Mississippi River I have had the opportunity to visit and in several cases live, either as a child or an adult. I can't say he misses the mark with his observations of Mississippi, Savannah, Gettysburg, New Hampshire, Vermont, or even Des Moines.
While the journey through the book isn't a smooth one - it was definitely stop and go reading for me - it is a worthwhile trip. Maybe one day I'll be fortunate enough to make a similar drive!
Funny tales of Bill Bryson's visits to numerous small towns across the country, with all their peculiarities. Sad too as de enlightens the reader on the decline of true towns in the face of rising strip malls and freeways.
The guy is funny....what more can I say. His powers of observation when he tours those tiny little rat-trap towns along the way are dead-on hilarious! Some places did drag...you can't read this book nonstop....it needs a breather. In it, Bryson goes solo driving through most of the country, and if you have ever spent your summer vacation in the back of the chevy or station wagon with mom and dad up front driving, stopping to read the historical markers, eating at the local dives and sizing up the locals themselves....well, you've got the picture, sort-of. Thumb's up!
Joy W. reviewed The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America on
Fun read, though not as good as A Walk in the Woods. Lost Continent gets a little repetitive at times, which is understandable since it's Bryson on a solitary journey. Would have liked a Stephen Katz-type character to liven things up.
For quite some time I've been wanting to take a road trip across our great nation, but this book is about all I'm able to afford right now. The travelogue unfolds across thirty-eight states as the author weaves his way in and out of small towns across the back roads of America. Stopping at landmarks and visiting tourist attractions along the way from Des Moines, Iowa (where he was raised) to South Carolina, onward throughout New England, west to California and then "home" again - Bill Bryson's keen observation and hilarious depiction of people and places had this armchair traveler laughing out loud the entire journey! Like any good vacation, I was sad to see it end.
I loved this book! I could appreciate his observations, having traveled the country myself. I was especially partial to his comments on Iowa since I lived there for a year! Bill has a great sense of humor!
Traveling with Bill Bryson through small town America is so entertaining. If the reader doesn't want to get itchy feet for a road trip, this is a book you should not read. Thoroughly delightful. Quick read.
He is funny, but I found him easier to take in small doses. He likes to make fun of people and places and if I read too much at once, it just made me annoyed at the author. However, I do plan to try another of his books.
Another disappointment from Byson! The first book I read of Bryson's was on the AT, bought as a guide for hiking and adventure. "A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail" was the worst of these two by far. "The Lost Continent" continued Bryson's trend of starting something, not seeing through to the end and doing it half way. This book took me forever to read because it was such a disappoinment. Had the book not been a gift I would have thrown it in the fire long before I finished it. This will be the last of Bryson's books I will waste my time reading. The sad thing is Bryson can put words together, form thoughts and make you want to read about the subject, but in the end, his half hearted attempt at his goal, complete with story lines like drinking and eating his way from town to town, alone, lost it seems is just poor reading. A sad waste of my time. But again it's JMO.