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on 31 January 2001
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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on 9 June 1999
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 Poignant comments and humourous reflections upon the new society on the way, together with many bizarre and macabre historical references make this an excellent holiday read.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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on 17 March 2004
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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on 6 January 2016
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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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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on 22 October 2001
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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VINE VOICEon 14 April 2010
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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on 21 November 1998
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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on 3 May 2014
Bryson is one of the finest travel writers of modern times and this is one of his best books. He is a warm companion but also a very human one, quite capable of being irritated, frustrated or horrified with what he sees, as well as being awestruck, delighted or simply bored. On occasion, this book is very, very funny. It runs out of steam a little in the final third and the California section is a little weak. More interesting is to re-visit the book to see how time has passed and how Bryson anticipates some of the absurdities of the US (and more generally) that have worsened since this book was written - convenience leading to obesity, institutional financial carelessness and the excesses of commercialism.
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on 7 December 2006
What's wrong with the most recent reviewers of Bill's hysterically funny debut? Has there been a recent upsurge in humour bypasses? I first read the Lost Continent not long after it was published and I've gone back to it several times since. It's very witty, well-observed and thoroughly to be recommended. I admit that his (very personal) take on America isn't exactly gushing with praise but it's a cracking read and it had me choking back laughter on public transport on many occasions. And I write this as a USA-phile with a particular affection for modern-day small town America. You don't have to agree with his opinions, but you have to admire his presentation. I lent my copy to a friend and he's yet to return it so I'm going to buy another one today.
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