- 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 (196 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America Paperback – 2 Jan 1999
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Photography © Julian J
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.
"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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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.
For those who have ever travelled outside of the cities in the U.S., and witnessed the social mix which is as varied as the weather across this vast land, this will sate your appetite for a definitive view of American culture. Bryson sees what is now, and with subtle yet hilarious use of personal reflection and historical counterpoint manages to capture the essence of his America.
Excellent cadence, depth and colour. There is a little of him in all of us, and he knows well how to reach it. A beatifully sublime book.
In the book Bryson takes a 13,978 mile roadtrip around the North, East, South and West of The United States in his Mother's car.
What I like about the book is that Bryson doesn't just visit and discuss the big cities he is actively looking for his fictional town of Amalgam a town which would be exactly like what he saw in the Films and TV shows of his childhood.
This being one of his earlier books where Bryson was still finding his style does prevent me scoring the book five stars.
That being said being filled with interesting anecdotes and his unique sense of humour I would highly recommend this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
OH dear, Bill Bryson has written some terrific books , but this isn't one of them. He describes a succession of awful dead end towns in America, each one more boring and dead-end... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Pamela joyce
Loved it ,informative and amusing. I feel I am with him on his travels very descriptive cannot wait to read the next one.Published 1 month ago by tms
An enjoyable BB book, full of information relayed in an easy to read manner. Put it down for a week, pick it up again, and it doesn't feel as though you've been away.Published 2 months ago by r
Up to his usual hilarious standard, Bill Bryson is a brilliant travel writer,his books are informative and extremely funny. Read morePublished 2 months ago by John B.
Superb story, great historical info. Bill Bryson makes you wish you were there.Published 3 months ago by Mr. T. Mcgregor