Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bill Bryson: Cranky, but Funny

I was just reading that Bill Bryson was recently honored with the Order of the British Empire, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to honor him on the blog.

In The Lost Continent, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, and Notes From a Small Island, Iowa-born Bryson takes us through the absurdities of life and travel in the nation of his birth, and in his adopted country of Great Britain. Nothing is safe from his scrutiny - not vehicle cupholder design, not bad food, and certainly not tourist traps that fail to live up to expectations.

Lost Continent and Notes are basically travelogues. Bryson covers 38-states in the Continental U.S. in the first, and almost the whole of Great Britain in the second. Stranger is more contemplative; a series of essays he wrote on U.S. life to a British newspaper. Some have called them mean-spirited, (and Bryson does come off as a bit cranky now and again), but mostly they're just funny. His snide observations give it to you the way it really is.

These are the only three of his books I have read, but I'm eager to tackle his other travelogues, his books on the wackiness of the English language, and even his ambitious-sounding A Short History of Nearly Everything.

He's a funny, funny man.

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