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

4.2 out of 5 stars 215 customer reviews

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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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (215 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Top Customer Reviews

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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By Andrew Kerr TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Jan. 2004
Format: Audio CD
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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Format: Paperback
Bryson takes us on a journey through small town America, strictly on the by-roads, in search of that American Nirvana that he calls "Amalgum". Poignant comments and humourous reflections upon the new society on the way, together with many bizarre and macabre historical references make this an excellent holiday read.
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.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 than the last in ever more negative prose. I imagine he was as glad to come to the end of his voyage as most readers were to come to the end of the book. Even a writer famed for being laugh out loud funny can produce a turkey sometimes it seems.
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By A Customer on 22 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read a few reviews of this book by Americans who feels Bryson is being unfair by laughing so much of their country and culture. All I can say is they need to get a sense of humour! This book is interesting, funny and also poignant in parts, particularly the part that covers the Deep South. Probably Bryson's funniest book, and that's saying something!
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Format: Paperback
This book sees Bill Bryson return to his native America after 15 years of living in Britain. He travels through small town America in search of the Main Street of the American dream. Bryson's observations and experiences are both interesting and amusing, and the book is similar in character to his later "Notes from a Small Island". This book is perfect for a long train or coach journey, and if you like Bryson's newspaper columns you will certainly enjoy this book.
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