Notes From A Big Country

Notes From A Big Country

Book - 1999
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Bill Bryson has the rare knack of being out of his depth wherever he goes - even (perhaps especially) in the land of his birth. This became all too apparent when, after nearly two decades in England, the world's best-loved travel writer upped sticks with Mrs Bryson, little Jimmy et al. and returned to live in the country he had left as a youth.

Of course there were things Bryson missed about Blighty but any sense of loss was countered by the joy of rediscovering some of the forgotten treasures of his childhood: the glories of a New England autumn; the pleasingly comical sight of oneself in shorts; and motel rooms where you can generally count on being awakened in the night by a piercing shriek and the sound of a female voice pleading, 'Put the gun down, Vinnie, I'll do anything you say.'

Whether discussing the strange appeal of breakfast pizza or the jaw-slackening direness of American TV, Bill Bryson brings his inimitable brand of bemused wit to bear on that strangest of phenomena - the American way of life.

Publisher: London : Black Swan, 1999, c1998.
ISBN: 9780552997867
0552997862
Characteristics: 398 p. : ill. ; 20 cm.

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Chapel_Hill_KatieJ Mar 22, 2018

I did not like this book. The premise was supposed to be about Bill Bryson moving back to the United States after 20 years in England, but it really wasn’t about that. Instead it was just a curmudgeon being curmudgeonly without being funny. He’s so entitled that he thinks he shouldn’t have to put street names on mail because the Post Office should figure that out for him. The book is also really, really dated. Obviously, that isn’t his fault, but it did make me regret bothering to read this book in 2018. At this point in time, it’s hard to have sympathy for someone who hassles airline employees because he thinks he shouldn’t have to show an ID to get on a plane.

AL_LESLEY Jan 31, 2017

Bryson compiled a collection of newspaper columns into this hilarious and endearing book. Written in the mid 90s it's interesting to look back and see what has changed and even more so what hasn't changed at all.

k
KWALKER101
Mar 14, 2016

This is a book that I've read ragged - by far and away my favorite Bryson book - and have to pause for laughing so hard each time. Wonderful observances of America (doubly so for me since I've visited England a few prolonged times) that will appeal to many, many readers. A light read and one that should definitely be checked out!

j
Jiminplymouth
Feb 06, 2016

I found the book to be whiney and tedious. That may be because the book is whiney and tedious or maybe I have just lost my sense of humor.

rb3221 Nov 17, 2015

Having been born in the States, then lived in England for 20 years and returned back home again Bryson gives us a series of very funny articles. These articles on American life were written for a newspaper are entertaining, often hilarious but now somewhat dated. Bryson is very often observant, and witty with a not so subtle sense of satire. The topics are varied as the vagaries of a computer, fast food, advertising, Christmas, litigation, trips to the seaside, the complexities of the tax system and more.
A sampling of his comments: on discussing dumb comments, he quotes Bob Dole who said " the campaign is about the future because that's where we're going." On basements he says there are "the third great feature of American life...because they are so amazingly, so spaciously, useless." For people who take two spaces in a parking lot, "I would welcome back capital punishment." Thanksgiving is the best holiday because "you don't have to give gift cards or send cards or do anything but eat until you look like a balloon." Of the 200 channels he gets on TV "you gradually realize the idea of TV here is simply to fill up the air with any old sludge". On all the conveniences in America " Americans have become so attached to the idea of convenience that they will put up with almost any inconvenience to achieve it". On Christmas, "why untangle the lights when you know they haven't a chance of working". On setting up his new computer: "If you have not yet acquired a degree in electrical engineering, now is the time to do it". Snowmobiling is " a rocket ship designed by Satan to run on snow."
Overall a very worthwhile easy to read funny book.

t
Tatergirl100
Jul 17, 2012

The perfect vacation book. Full of laugh-out-loud stories in bite-size pieces, so it's easy to read at whatever speed you wish to go.

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Red_Rabbit_102
Jul 29, 2012

Red_Rabbit_102 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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Tatergirl100
Jul 17, 2012

Tatergirl100 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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