Notes from a Big Country – Bill Bryson – 6/10

“People have become so habituated to using the car for everything that it would never occur to them to unfurl their legs and see what they can do.”

big country

Having read and loved Notes from a Small Island and Down Under, I dutifully collected all of Bryson’s books… this one is a collection of columns he wrote for a British newspaper after returning to the USA with his family, having left it as a young man.

Bryson pokes fun at nearly every aspect of life in the US – wranglings with immigration, the fact that no one walks anywhere, statistically aberrant accident rates, guns, diners, obesity, motels (there are several chapters on motels, actually), baseball, basketball, the local Ivy League college – everything. As I’m used to, it was generally funny with occasional snorts of laughter (to be suppressed on public transport).

Bizarrely, or perhaps just unexpectedly, Bryson appears much more positive about his time in the UK than the prospect of being back in his homeland – while the purpose of the column is clearly to be amusing to UK readers, week after week Bryson lampoons his new, re-adopted country. At first this makes a non-US reader feel rather smug but after a while I felt a bit bad, like hearing someone bad-mouth their other half. Given that the writing was intended to be episodic, it can come across as mildly repetitive, and eventually his negative tone (while often funny) can grate.

Probably not to be recommended to people who live in the USA and like it there.

Additional information:
Copy from Bookmooch
Publisher: Black Swan, 399 pages (paperback)
Order Notes From A Big Countryfrom Amazon*
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One thought on “Notes from a Big Country – Bill Bryson – 6/10

  1. Rosario 1 May 2013 at 8:33 am Reply

    I think the ideal way of reading this would be as it was meant to be read originally: i.e. a column a week. That way the repetitiveness won’t be an issue. Of course, anyone who can manage to do this is a lot stronger than me. I kept telling myself ‘only one more’, and still finished the book in a couple of sittings.

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