Author: Bill Bryson
Title: The Lost Continent
Length: a few months
Time to take stock
The story: BB, who lives in the UK, goes back to his hometown of Des Moines in the state of Iowa. He rents a car and drives around the States in two trips (one east, one west), looking for what he calls “small-town America”.
humorous and sharp
The book is fun, and it takes a very humorous and sharp attempt at revealing the direction that American society has been taking over the last thirty years: the increasing degree of motorization, the gated communities, the isolation, the death of downtown, etc. But the book is more than that.
Bill Bryson’s personal account
I think what makes it particularly good is the fact that BB is not only a keen observer, but also a rather personal writer. Unlike Peter Fleming or Nigel Barley, who are also fun to read, BB manages to be comical without alienating himself from his surroundings. It might be due to the fact that he is writing about his home country, but both his anger and his joy feel very real. I liked this one.
It might have been a bit too contemporary to be a classic (yet), but it was a good, honest book and an excellent attempt to take stock of American society at the turn of the millennium.
An 8/10, maybe more.