Notes From A Big Country

Notes From A Big Country

Book - 1998
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From perfectly formed potatoes to adulterous U.S. presidents, and from domestic upsets to millennial fever, Bill Bryson just cannot resist airing his opinions on his fellow Americans. After twenty years in England, Bryson is now back on the other side of the pond, and is obviously having a little trouble finding his true American self again. With his trademark wit, Bryson bemusedly examines that strangest of phenomena: the American way of life. Whether he is discussing the dazzling efficiency of the garbage disposal unit, the comical sight of oneself in shorts, or the jaw-slackening direness of what's on TV, all topics receive the inimitable Bryson treatment. This collection of comic pieces, taken from his regular column inThe Mail on Sunday's Night and Daymagazine, will delight Bryson's ever-growing legion of fans.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, c1998.
ISBN: 9780385258135
Characteristics: 318 pages : illustrations


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Feb 06, 2019

Sadly my least favorite Bryson read to-date. While I laughed at some of the "short stories" others were wildly outdated (complaining about needing photo ID to board a plane - not even funny in a post 9/11 era). Nonetheless, I enjoy Bryson's observations, just not a similar style to some other journeys he can take you on.

Jun 09, 2018

Stupidly chose this book for an assignment and boy am I regretting it. Bill Bryson is lovely - Notes from a Small Island convinced me to move to England a few decades ago with my English husband - but this one is simply a collection of dorky grandpa-who-doesn't-understand-these-newfangled-gadgets columns.

You can't expect a collection of newspaper columns to have the same gravitas as a travel memoir, and you would still be disappointed. I don't get the whole point of this except to show that he's a first class curmudgeon who is out of step, and since the book was published before Y2K, everything is already out of step and ancient.

Even his writing is repetitive. His wife is the straight man to his idiot goofy old man naïveté/complaining/whining. Seriously, it's so repetitive that he writes a column about her commenting that all he does is complain.

The other option for my required reading was "Eat, Pray, Love" and like everyone else, I'd already read it and I hate re-reading as it doesn't seem a good use of my reading time. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Should have picked up almost any other Bill Bryson book and faked it.

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.

ArapahoeLesley 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.

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!

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.

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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Jul 29, 2012

Red_Rabbit_102 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 17, 2012

Tatergirl100 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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