THE LOST CONTINENT: TRAVELS IN SMALL TOWN AMERICA AND NEITHER HERE NOR THERE

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9780436201301: THE LOST CONTINENT: TRAVELS IN SMALL TOWN AMERICA AND NEITHER HERE NOR THERE

Hardly anyone ever leaves Des Moines, Iowa. But Bill Bryson did, and after ten years in England he decided to go home - to a foreign country. In an ageing Chevrolet Chevette, he drove nearly 14,000 miles through 38 states to compile this hilarious and perceptive state-of-the-nation report on small-town America. From the Deep South to the Wild West, from Elvis' birthplace through to Custer's Last Stand, Bryson visits places he re-named Dullard, Coma and Doldrum (so the residents don't sue or come after him with baseball bats). But his hopes of finding the American dream end in a nightmare of greed, ignorance and pollution. This is a wickedly witty and savagely funny assessment of a country lost to itself - and to him. Travel through small-town America with Kerry Shale's popular BBC Radio 4 reading of Bill Bryson's comic novel.

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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 colorful 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?

About the Author:

Bill Bryson's bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent and Notes from a Small Island, which in a national poll was voted the book that best represents Britain. Another travel book, A Walk in the Woods, has become a major film starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson. His new number one Sunday Times bestseller is The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island. His acclaimed book on the history of science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Royal Society's Aventis Prize as well as the Descartes Prize, the European Union's highest literary award. He has written books on language, on Shakespeare, on history, and on his own childhood in the hilarious memoir The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. His last critically lauded bestsellers were At Home: a Short History of Private Life, and One Summer: America 1927 Bill Bryson was born in the American Midwest, and now lives in the UK. A former Chancellor of Durham University, he was President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England for five years, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society.

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Bill Bryson
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