The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America

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9780060920081: The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America

Hardly anyone ever leaves Des Moins, 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 amusing state-of-the-nation report on small-town America. From the Deep South to the Wild West, from Elvis's birthplace to Custer's Last Stand, through dire places he renamed Dullard, Coma and Doldrum, he embarked on an optimistic odyssey in search of his American dream. He found only a greedy, polluted nightmare.

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Product Description:

Bill Bryson drove 14,000 miles in search of the mythical small town of his youth. Instead he found a lookalike strip of gas stations, motels and hamburger joints; a continent lost to itself through greed, pollution and television, and lost to him because he had become a foreigner in his own country. A funny and serious view of smalltown America.

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?

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