Monday, January 5, 2009

The Lost Continent

Travels in Small Town America, by Bill Bryson.

Quickie Recap: After a decade of living in England, Bryson returned to the US, got in his car (well, his mum's car anyway) and drove in search of the warm fuzzy places he remembered from family trips of his youth.

Quickie Review: Well, he never found those warm fuzzy places. They all seem to have been replaced by nearly identical towns of stripmalls, gas stations, and fast food joints. Bryson is a genius of course, and he manages to paint this bleak picture with his characteristic dark humour. It's a bit sad too though, because he drives 14000 miles in search of something that doesn't really exist anymore, and you get a double sense of loss: on the one hand a personal loss, that of a youthful image of a mythical small town that keeps luring him on but remains elusive, and on the other hand a more generalized loss for the rest of us as we discover that the postcard perfection is not just elusive but extinct.

Quickie Recommendation: I read The Geography of Hope and was inspired to read Drive, which in turn inspired me to read The Lost Continent. For me, this was a pretty organic selection process and I'm happy with the outcome. Bryson is a pretty sure bet, and I might even give him the edge in an otherwise pretty stellar trilogy.

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