Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Written for the Road...

THE LOST CONTINENT by Bill Bryson is an autobiographical story about Bryson's return to the United States after he spent nearly two decades abroad. The tale begins in Byrson's home town of Des Moines, Iowa, and then continues to it weaves its way through 38 states; all along Bill Bryson uses his keen sense of humor often reflecting on similar trips led by his directionally challenged father a generation before. The Lost Continent has a serious tone too, for it is also a hard look into the decline of rural America. Bryson offers harsh criticism for the friendly small towns that are being paved over with carparks and fast food joints. The towns that Bryson loved as a kid have become in his eyes, "Junksville." What makes Bill Bryson such a great travel writer is his use of research. The anecdotes from state to state are intriguing as they are comical; the research is the road map of the story. While there are many great parts in the book, The Lost Continent is by no means perfect. Bryson can be heavy handed and patronising at times. But in my humble opinion Bryson's tale, which is part travelogue, part social commentary, and part mid-life crisis on paper, is a read that all travelers will appreciate.

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