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The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town…

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America (1989)

by Bill Bryson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Bill Bryson's Travels (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,1681041,252 (3.66)88
  1. 20
    Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck (John_Vaughan)
  2. 10
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman (rockhopper_penguin)
    rockhopper_penguin: I read these two books one after another. It wasn't a deliberate decision, but the two did seem to work well together. The books visit a few of the same places, and it's interesting to note how differently they are portrayed in each.
  3. 10
    Population: 485 by Michael Perry (bnbookgirl)
  4. 00
    The Small Town in American Literature by David M. Cook (RedEyedNerd)
    RedEyedNerd: 26 American works published between the 1870s and the 1960s. Poems and short stories in full length, novels as excerpts. They share the small town setting as an essential ingredient. Editor's headnotes on the small town aspect of every work.
  5. 00
    If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende (bnbookgirl)
    bnbookgirl: most enjoyable
  6. 00
    The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner (Othemts)

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» See also 88 mentions

English (99)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
Granted, Bill Bryson is funny. His quick wit and snide, judgmental remarks are probably the only things that got me through this book. (Although, I don't know if I would go as far as to say he is "pound-on-the-floor, snort-root-beer-out-of-your-nose funny," San Francisco Examiner. That's just a little too much.) And a comedic tone can only get you so far.

Bill's road trip starts out in search of Amalgram, a perfect, fictitious small town based on the background of 1950's TV and movies (But I wish he would have added tap-dancing orphans to his list of qualifications). Along the way, though, his predilections for small towns quickly descends into pessimistic observations as nowhere seems to fit his ideal.

During the first few towns, his judgments seem unique and whole-hearted, but by the end, it is the same two problems over and over again. "This town is too touristy!" or "This town isn't touristy enough!" It gets old very, very quickly.

The scenes Bill writes about on the road are descriptive to where you can almost close your eyes and see the swaying cornfields of Iowa, the still waters of Lake Huron, and the snow-covered tips of the Rockies (ooh, I even just gave myself the chills!), but the towns are all the same. "It's all shopping malls and McDonald's", "It's nothing but gift shops", "Where are the shopping malls, McDonald's, and gift shops?"

My other complaint is totally personal and has nothing to do with the writing, but the writer. I understand this book was written many moons ago, in fact, I was just being born when he was passing through the Northeast, but it astounds me when someone can just take off a year of whatever occupation they have and just drive around a continent. And what about his wife and children that he rarely mentions? It made me wonder if they were even real. Did he ever call them? Was his humor just cover of being an asshole and terrible husband and father?

Anyway, it wasn't that I hated the book, it just wasn't great. It had it's funny moments that elicited an internal chuckle, but I didn't find myself thinking the best of Bill Bryson, or America, by the end. ( )
  bleached | Jun 25, 2018 |
I wanted to love this. I wanted to be cool and adore Bryson like the rest of the world. But in this book, at least, I found him to be snobbish and snarky and small minded and in a few cases downright mean. Didn't like this at all. ( )
  Kim_Sasso | Mar 14, 2018 |
Fantastic, hilarious, brilliant!

I can't wait to read more of Bryson's books.

Only one thing nagging me the whole book, though. America is a continent, not a country. ( )
  Tacuazin | Feb 28, 2018 |
Per qualche ragione che non conosco Bill Bryson non è troppo conosciuto in Italia.

Eppure libri come "The Lost Continent" sono una delle migliori descrizioni che abbia mai letto dell'America profonda, quella dei paesini e delle zone al di fuori delle due coste.

E' un viaggio nella memoria, nella perdita dell'identità e nella spersonalizzaione che sta arrivando anche in Italia.

La perdita della Main Street come punto di socializzazione a favore dei mall e dei centri commerciali. La perdita di punti centrali a favore delle zone specifiche.

E' un viaggio, è memoria ed anche molto divertente.

Un libro da leggere per capire meglio un paese che conosciamo molto nell'immaginario ma di cui sappiamo pochissimo nella realt- ( )
  annarellix | Jan 31, 2018 |
I tried to read this, since I have liked several of Bill Bryson's other books, but gave up on chapter 8 after suffering through the writing of a cranky, grumpy, non-curious person dripping sarcastic complaints on most things he saw or people he met. I mean, who says about older people 'at least they will be dead soon'? Seriously? There is none of the love and research into history that is present in later books, there is none of the amazement and puns. It is just sad and honestly at times, infuriating. The author might have thought he was funny, but it comes across as a complaining, entitled middle-age guy that is not used to travel. The book was written 27 years ago, and that shows too. Still, where is the analysis, the thoughts on WHY and HOW the people and landscape look like they look, the changes. There is even a lack of understanding for his own parents' situation and behavior. I didn't finish the book, so maybe he changes toward the end, but the first third was not an enjoyable read with all the repeated complaints and offensive, non-humane thoughts. ( )
  klockrike | Nov 5, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bill Brysonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schalekamp, JeanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my father
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I come from Des Moines.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
he drives through the states,
acts miserable,
eating junk and talking shit.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060920084, Paperback)

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?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:34 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

When a native of Iowa returns from England to wander across America's heartland in search of the perfect small town, the result is a string of hilarious anecdotes and biting social commentary

» see all 15 descriptions

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