Monday, May 23, 2005

Armchair Traveling: I have been trying to read The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America by Bill Bryson, at the suggestion of my friend Chrissy, who says my writing brings his to mind. I can see why she would say that. He is a total smart ass, and writes relatively terse, irony laced observations about normal things. Bryson is a Yank who went to live in England as a young adult and turned full-on Limey. He returns to the US and undertakes a road trip around the country, avoiding big cities, in a Chevy Chevette and stays at cheap, skanky roadside motels (not my kind of travel, to say the least). Ostensibly, he is in search of the glorious, Rockwell-esque image of small town America, but for the first hundred pages or so he bitches about everything. He gets down on every thing he sees and everyone he encounters. I’m fine with that to an extent, but when it is so incessant it comes to sound mean-spirited despite the wittiness. I almost gave up on it but it slowly seems to be picking up so I’m continuing, tentatively, for now. A full review may follow.

By the way, if you are looking for a truly delightful comic travelogue, I can’t recommend Hokkaido Highway Blues, by Will Ferguson, highly enough. It is a recounting of Ferguson’s adventures as he hitchhikes the entire length of Japan. In the course of it, he rips on the Japanese as well as anyone, but you never doubt his love for the place and the people. One of the most entertaining books I have ever read.