The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America, by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is well-known for his humorous and low-key columns. As an American living in Great Britian he got mileage out of the outsider's viewpoint of British society. After twenty years of living abroad, he returned to the US and now gets great mileage from the outsider's viewpoint of American society. The Lost Continent is the story of a transcontinental journey he made in 1987 after the death of his father, retracing some of the routes his family travelled for summer vacations in his childhood. I listened to the unabridged version narrated by William Roberts. I can't recommend it. Bryson finds everything disappointing and the America he finds is boring, crime-ridden, monotonous and crass. I've read the book before and enjoyed it immensely. I've also liked all of Bryson's other work. I blame the narrator. William Roberts manages to infuse so much vitriol and condescension into Bryson's voice that the book was ruined. Roberts' overacting sucks all the warmth out of Bryson's humour.

1 comment:

Brian said...

I was searching around for a good audio version of this book and it's too bad the pickins are so slim because the book is great and wryly funny. I havne't heard this version, but another bad version has Kerry Shale narrating and between reading so fast and abridging all the best parts out of it (including the entire second half of the book) it was to say the least disappointing. Why dont' they just get Bryson to read this book like he did for "A Walk in the Woods." I love listening to that recording. And Brysons VOICE makes it as much as his writing. (sigh)