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The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town…

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America (original 1989; edition 2001)

by Bill Bryson (Author)

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5,8131221,345 (3.67)90
"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 aging Chevrolet Chevette, he drove nearly 14,000 miles through thirty-eight states to compile this hilarious and perceptive state-of-the-nation report on small-town America."--Container.… (more)
Title:The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America
Authors:Bill Bryson (Author)
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2001), Edition: Later Printing, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

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

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English (117)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (122)
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
Written in the 1980s, this book shows its age. Bryson makes comments that would not be publishable today. He remarks on women's bottoms (fetish, methinks), skin color, and obesity. While never declaring itself a travel guide, Bryson provides uneven coverage. He is overly dismissive of some areas of the US (Detroit, Nevada...) and too adoring of others (Iowa, Iowa, Iowa). Nonetheless, when not cringing, he made me laugh out loud at times. (Tetons --as in the Grand Tetons-- is French for tits...thank goodness the French didn't discover the Grand Canyon) ( )
  mjspear | Nov 23, 2021 |
Want a disappointment this book was for me. I absolutely loved A Walk in the Woods and enjoyed In a Sun-burnt Country, but here Bryson seems to have no lightness of spirit at all.
The occasional laughs found in this book are drowned beneath the unkind and limited view he offers here. Ostensibly this is a chronicle of Bryson revisiting his home country and taking a nostalgic driving tour. And that would have been great! But this book is not that.
Instead it’s a collection of columns Bryson wrote for a British newspaper about his trip down memory lane. I don’t know if he thought he’d get more laughs from Brits by continuously moaning about the US, or if he was a more callow writer then and thought smarminess could be a substitute for wit or humor.
This is one of Bryson’s early books. I’d give it a hard pass. ( )
1 vote bohemima | Oct 20, 2021 |
Got to be the snottiest book I've ever read. ( )
1 vote unclebob53703 | Oct 1, 2021 |
Audiobook narrated by William Roberts.

Subtitle: Travels in Small Town America

After living abroad for some years, Bryson returns to his home country eager to scratch his nostalgia itch for the road trips and experiences of his childhood. Setting out from his childhood home in his mother’s “aging Chevrolet Chevette,” he traverses the back roads of most of the contiguous forty-eight states in search of the perfect small American town, where “Bing Crosby is the priest, Jimmy Stewart is the mayor, and Fred MacMurray is the principal.”

The jacket promises “an uproariously funny narrative” but the book didn’t deliver … at least not in my opinion. I found much of it very dated (it was originally published in 1989), and his snide remarks about many of the places he visited were downright mean-spirited. In fairness, I also am dismayed by the commercialization and sameness of much of the landscape (I love driving vacations and have made many a trek across the USA), and I cringe at the ridiculous souvenir shops at even the most honored historic or natural sights. But I can ignore the shop selling commemorative pillows and mugs and still enjoy the majesty of Mammoth Cave, for example, or the historic information about Salem, Massachusetts.

I listened to this on audio, and William Roberts does a very good job of the narration. I wish he had better material to work with. ( )
  BookConcierge | Sep 30, 2021 |
This one is quite a bit different from his "Walk in the Woods." That book is about his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail and includes some interesting tidbits about the trail and its history, as well as several of the communities along the trail. This book is more critical of places in America as well as being much more superficial. Bryson drives a car around to 38 of the lower 48 states and describes some of the places he visits, with an attempt to place the emphasis on rural and small-town America. He doesn't do well at stopping at small towns and describes most places only very, very superficially. Plus he finds problems with everyplace he stops. I was hoping for more details and history and maybe some interesting perspectives as a former American now living in England. Alas, I didn't get much, although there is some humor in the book. ( )
  Jeff.Rosendahl | Sep 21, 2021 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bryson, Billprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schalekamp, JeanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my father
First words
I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.
For one giddy careless moment, I was almost serene myself. It was a strange sensation, and it soon passed.
"I don't know, dear," my mother would answer mildly. My mother only ever said two things. She said, "I don't know, dear." And she said, "Can I get you a sandwich, honey?" Occasionally on our trips she would volunteer other pieces of intelligence like "Should that dashboard light be glowing like that, dear?" or "I think you hit that dog/man/blind person back there, honey," but mostly she kept quiet.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

"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 aging Chevrolet Chevette, he drove nearly 14,000 miles through thirty-eight states to compile this hilarious and perceptive state-of-the-nation report on small-town America."--Container.

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Book description
Haiku summary
he drives through the states,
acts miserable,
eating junk and talking shit.

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