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The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America Paperback – 2 Jan 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (2 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552998087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552998086
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. Settled in England for many years, he moved to America with his wife and four children for a few years ,but has since returned to live in the UK. His bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent, Notes From a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. His acclaimed work of popular science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of the decade in the UK.


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Product Description

Amazon Review

A travelogue by Bill Bryson is as close to a sure thing as funny books get. The Lost Continent is no exception. Following an urge to rediscover his youth (he should know better), the author leaves his native Des Moines, Iowa, in a journey that takes him across 38 states. Lucky for us, he brought a notebook.

With a razor wit and a kind heart, Bryson serves up a colourful tale of boredom, kitsch, and beauty when you least expect it. Gentler elements aside, The Lost Continent is an amusing book. Here's Bryson on the women of his native state: "I will say this, however--and it's a strange, strange thing--the teenaged daughters of these fat women are always utterly delectable ... I don't know what it is that happens to them, but it must be awful to marry one of those nubile cuties knowing that there is a time bomb ticking away in her that will at some unknown date make her bloat out into something huge and grotesque, presumably all of a sudden and without much notice, like a self- inflating raft from which the pin has been yanked."

Yes, Bill, but be honest: what do you really think? --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"High-spirited... hilarious" (Observer)

"Hilarious... he can be suave, sarcastic and very funny... not your typical travel writer" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Funny as this wonderful book is, it is also a serious indictment of the American way of life and the direction in which it is going... he is genuinely shocked, as we are, by the statistics of affluence, poverty, crime and culture that he drops in hither and thither" (Irish Times)

"A very funny performance, littered with wonderful lines and memorable images" (Literary Review)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 Jan 2001
Format: Paperback
The first book by Bill Bryson I read was "A walk in the woods", and I could not imagine any book to be funnier and wittier. Then, one day, I saw "The lost continent", bought it, read it - and had to change my opinion. In this book, Iowa-born writer Bryson, who has moved to Great Britain some years ago, becomes homesick, borrows his mother's rusty car and makes a journey across small-town America. It was great fun reading and enjoying all those acerbic commentaries about everyday life in the U.S. On his journey, Bryson has to deal with lots of displeasant accidents - unfriendly waitresses, weird (and warty) gas station attendants, bad hotel rooms, ugly shopping malls everywhere, mentally retarded radio dj's (who are fond of playing "Hotel California" by the Eagles every ten minutes) and so on. His travel leads him to Cape Cod, the Grand Canyon and the Great Lakes, and there are lots of funny depictions of life in those places as well as worried remarks about fast-food culture throughout the U.S. You really can feel Bryson's affection for his home country, and that's why this book is so entertaining.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Peter Hobden on 17 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback
This book started a complete new genre of travel writing.
It appeared on the bookshelves unannounced some time ago.
It slowly began to gain momentum for Bryson purely on the strength of the quality writing and it's apparent new style.
It became a massive seller, as have many of his subsequent books.

Before Bryson travel books were DULL and polarised.
Byson took the shine off the glossy travel books and created a new type of writing - maybe REALITY travel writing?!

For those of you who went on cheap holidays, and visited poor `attractions` as a kid, this re-lives it all.

It's about America, but there are so many similarities in the UK. When something is c**p he tells it like it is; when it's quality, he also gives praise.

Brysons offerings since have been variable - now he knows he has an audience to please.

Many writers have tried to follow him; some more successful than others. Don't forget Bryson was there first.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Kerr TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Jan 2004
Format: Library Binding
I like Bill Bryson. For me, he has the greatest wit of any travel writer.
The Lost Continent is a very entertaining book anyway, but Kerry Shale brings the characters Bill meets to life. Take the Mississippi policeman Bill meets at some traffic lights. 'Yawwwwwwwwnnnn vaycayshun...? How'd'y'laaaaak Misuppy?' the cop asks. Bill has to ask him three times to repeat himself because he simply doesn't understand the outsize drawl the man has. Finally, he thanks the cop profusely for his patience and drives off, pondering the wisdom of giving such dangerously stupid people a gun and squad car...
Alongside these straightforward amusing vignettes, he does still make a lot of interesting observations about small-town America. He even lets on some of his secrets for saving money. When visiting Historic Williamsburg, don't drive up the main driveway cos that'll only cost money. Just drive round the back and you can get in for free...
Packed full of humour, observations and tips, this is ideal for listening to in the car, especially with Kerry Shale's inimitable voice. You'll find yourself imitating some of his best lines to yourself, and wondering how on earth they sound so much funnier when he says them!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Feb 1999
Format: Paperback
I've just finished The Lost Continent and am still recovering from the experience. Bill Bryson's devastating wit and keen perceptions are right on target. I had tears rolling down my face, collapsing in helpless laughter when reading about tacky souvenir shops in Savannah and Gatlinburg and pig-out marathons in Pennyslvania Dutch restaurants and boring nonsense on historical markers. He never misses an opportunity to zing Americans for their lack of taste but he also lovingly describes scenic back roads and the few small towns that are still thriving, or are at least interesting (especially if they resist the lure of fast food chains and WalMarts). Anyone who went on endless car trips as a kid will definitely love this book. I must read more by Mr. Bryson!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Stevens VINE VOICE on 14 April 2010
Format: Paperback
I beleive this is BB's first travelogue, and I have only just got round to reading it, after finding it buried in the depths of my collection of "books I must read", which keeps getting bigger rather than smaller.

Was it worth the wait? Yes. Bryson, having spent a number of years in the UK returns to the US, and starts a journey to find "Amalgam", the non-existant American "Dream Town". On his way to find his mythical Utopia Bryson comments in his wry manner on a number of things; the American plate, radio, motels, baseball etc etc. The short chapters and his wry style make it very readable for anyone with an interest of the US, or indeed travel in general. My favourite scene is his visit to the Grand Canyon engulfed in fog, and his meeting with a couple of honeymooners..... a laugh out loud moment - one of many littered throughout the book.

Why not 5 stars? I just felt at times, some of the comments were a little repetitive, but is that an indication of the state of that nation? Did he find Amalgam? Read it and find out? You will not be disappointed and will find the journey with Bill amusing and informative, a style which he really develops on in all his later travel books.
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