Friday, 6 November 2009

Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson

Hilarious. I can't say much else about this book. It speaks for itself just to say that I convinced Uri (my fiancé, who makes up for my overzealous approach to reading with his laxness) to read one chapter and he is now hooked and reading (and re-reading!) the whole thing. Really it is a collection of columns that Bryson wrote for the Mail on Sunday when he picked up and moved his family and his whole life back to his home country after living in England for 25 years or so. It's a strange dynamic, having an American who is almost an Englishman reporting about America's quirks and attributes, trying to re-adjust to life in the USA. But Bryson is just too funny - turning a simple trip to the post office into an hilarious anecdote and sometimes letting his taste for the British outrageous humour ride a long wave, becoming somewhat rant-like, but never losing its edge and wit. The short, sharp injections of humour make it all the more enjoyable, as there is never much downtime. It's just about laugh after laugh.

Bryson's thoughts and rantings are also well-researched. Although these columns were published in the late 90s and therefore some of his statistics and facts might be a little stale now, reading them in his context keeps them relevant. And funny! Some of the information he uncovers and brings to light is shocking, some ridiculous, some unbelievable. But it gets you thinking about things you otherwise probably wouldn't have noticed or looked in to. And while there might be some light jeering, there is no America-bashing at all - Bryson makes it clear he is very fond of his homeland. If you look, you can find things to jeer at anywhere! Actually, that might just be one of Bill Bryson's life theories.

Warning: do not read in public places, unless you don't mind being that weirdo on the bus giggling hysterically into a book.

1 comment:

Hilbydoo said...

I agree his books are great reads - try his Aussie one and UK ones too.
I don't mind laughing on public transport - its the ones that make you weep that should be avoided!
Or the ones that make you blush and hope no-one can read over your shoulder!