The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson

The Lost Continent

'I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to'And, as soon as Bill Bryson was old enough, he left. Des Moines couldn't hold him, but it did lure him back. After ten years in England, he returned to the land of his youth, and drove almost 14,000 miles in search of a mythical small town called Amalgam, the kind of trim and sunny place where the films of his youth were set. Instead, his search led him to Anywhere, USA; a lookalike strip of gas stations, ...

Details The Lost Continent

TitleThe Lost Continent
Release DateAug 28th, 1990
PublisherWilliam Morrow Paperbacks
GenreTravel, Nonfiction, Humor, Autobiography, Memoir

Reviews The Lost Continent

  • Leftbanker
    The Lost Continental: A Look at Bill BrysonI must preface this essay by saying that if everyone didn’t like this Bill Bryson book as much as I didn’t (at least the person he is in this book), he would be about the wealthiest author on the planet. At least I bought it. I have several of his books and have read all of them. Bill Bryson can be assured that with detractors like me, he doesn’t need fans. I should also say that I have lived a ful...
  • Gary
    It's funny how so many Americans begin their reviews of 'The Lost Continent' with statements such as "I loved Bryson's other books but this one is terrible!", all because he treats America the same way as he treats everywhere and everyone else.So while many Americans think it's acceptable - hilarious, even - for Bryson to make disparaging-but-witty comments about non-Americans and the places they call home, it is an utter outrage for him to be an...
  • Tommy
    Well, ain't it somethin for dat rascally Mr. Bryson wit all o dat funny Northern talk to make his way down here to Dixie and spend some time wid us! We sure do 'ppreciate you takin us into your rich and well-knowed book, Mr. Bryson. And yer gosh-darn-right, God save all those poor folk who done shopped at K-Mart! They should've spent their nickels at Crate & Barrel had they knowed what to do wid demselves.....
  • Ciara
    This is the worst book ever. Bryson is a fat, cynical white guy traveling around the country, proclaiming in the subtitle: "Travels in Small Town America." But like most fat white guys, Bryson is scared of small town America. He hates every small town he comes to- whether they're on Indian reservations, small farming communities in Nebraska, southern towns full of African Americans where the author is too scared to even stop the car, or small min...
  • Zuberino
    Bryson does two things very well in this book, besides his trademark humour which is happily a constant in this and every other book he's ever written. He captures the spirit of the land at a very specific time in its recent history: 1987, the high water mark of the Reaganite project. Time and again, he is left demoralized by the mindless affluenza that was the hallmark of American society during the latter half of the 1980s. More broadly, Bryson...
  • Karen
    When reading this book, American readers may very well feel like they are eavesdropping on a conversation not intended for their ears. This is because Bill Bryson obviously intended this book to be read by a British audience. There are lots of laughs in this book. His depictions of Iowa made me laugh until I had tears in my eyes. For example, his explanation for why so many farmers are missing fingers:"Yet, there is scarcely a farmer in the Midwe...
  • Claire
    Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person who's noticed the fact that Bill Bryson is a smug bastard who casts a pall of depressing sarcasm over everything he writes about. I mean, I'm all for sarcasm in most cases, but it's as though all of his subjects are cheapened and made despicable by his prose. In The Lost Continent, he turns every small-town inhabitant into an ignorant, obnoxious caricature. The book has virtually nothing to offer, unless ...
  • Greg
    I was excited to read this book. I've owned it for a few years now, and it's one of those books that I would see on my shelf and I'd think, this is going to be good, I better save it for another day when I guess I deserve to read something good rather than now when I should read something I'm not looking forward to. Or whatever it is that my thought process is about delaying gratification of books that I actually want to read versus a good deal o...
  • Andrew Smith
    I do like Bryson. I enjoy his wry views on life, people and places. He informs and he makes me laugh, and that's enough to ensure I keep coming back to spend more time in his company. Here he promises to follow the path of old holidays with his parents, when as a child he was hauled around the country visiting towns of dubious merit and passing time at ‘freebie’ attractions that failed to delight or even stay long in the memory. His father wa...
  • Andrea
    I was really excited to read this book, as I love observational memoir-style writing - especially when it deals with travel and cultural habits people keep with food. And at first I thought his observations were snarky, spot-on, and funny. But as the book wore on (like, about 25 pages or so in), I started to become appalled at how really shallow and mean he started to sound: everyone he encountered was disgusting, stupid, or fat - or all three - ...
  • Heather
    I started this book while I was sitting in the jury pool waiting room. The first chapter made me laugh out loud. I was sitting in the most uncomfortable, boring, and annoying place in the universe and it still made me laugh out loud. People looked at me. However, after the first few chapters I noticed a steady decline. I stopped reading about halfway through the book because I had read the word fat about 3,000 times. I get it. You don't like fat ...
  • Michael
    While in the Frankfurt airport killing time, I decided I needed something to read while waiting in the airport and on the long flight back. During my vacation, I had already read Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of Freedom, Judith Butler's Excitable Speech, and Yves Simon's Freedom and Community, as well as most of two issues of CCC and an issue of Hypatia. I was a bit tired of academic voices and theory (though I had enjoyed everything I read, except per...
  • Petra X
    Nothing to write home about, not even if you are from small-town America. The author, in this book, is caught up in himself and his wit rather than the subject, the small towns of America.
  • Adam
    Ha, oh America!As much as I hesitated to read a travelogue about America while living abroad (I mean, shouldn't I be reading about my host country), my diminishing pile of books from home lead me to this humorous Bryson tale.I've now had a couple of encounters with Bryson's writing and each time, seem to grow more and more fond of his haphazard style of not only traveling but writing as well. How many other authors dare pay tribute to their decea...
  • ~☆~Autumn♥♥
    I have been to many of the places in the west that he traveled to in this book and it was interesting to me to read about his experiences which were so different to what I experienced. We had a great breakfast in Sundance, WY and the waitress was so super nice and cheerful that I actually purchased a t-shirt to remember her. Bill Bryson did not get to eat there as The Shriners had taken over and the waitress would not help him. I don't find the w...
  • Negin
    I read parts of this during an extremely long wait in the doctor’s office with my teenage daughter. There were lots of giggle-out-loud moments, and, of course, I’d interrupt her reading to hand her a short paragraph or two to read. It was fun to have her chuckle also. It also made the wait go by so much quicker. This isn’t my favorite Bryson book by any means, but as always, I thoroughly enjoyed his humor and wit. Many don’t seem to like ...
  • Tara
    How can a man think he's seen America if he refuses to get out of his car? Bill Bryson perfectly embodies what Wendell Berry would describe as a "failure to encounter": Bryson doesn't encounter America. He doesn't find it. He treats it like a disposable tissue, with as little interest in where it came from and in where it's going. Our nation does have a problem in rampant, mindless consumption, but along with our (possibly fatal) flaws are millio...
  • Miranda Reads
    As my father always used to tell me, 'You see, son, there's always someone in the world worse off than you.' And I always used to think, 'So?' Bryson returns to England after ten years and decides to take a road trip full of nostalgic stops. He reflects on many a good adventure with his family and, in particular, his father. Wholly entertaining and engaging!
  • Lorenzo Pilla
    Bad. Bad. Bad. While Bryson can be funny at times, I quickly grew tired of him and eventually he just annoyed me with this one. I would have stopped in the middle, but for my book club's sake, I plodded through, skimming some sections toward the end. This isn't real travel writing. Bryson was a longtime expat in England who returned to the US apparently so he could cynically criticize just about everyone and everything he saw here. I got the feel...
  • D.A. Cairns
    This is the first Bill Bryson book I have read and it's not hard to see why he has become so popular. Written in a mostly conversational style, as though he were relating the highs and lows of his travel experiences to his friends over dinner just after he returned, it is filled with very poignant, evocative language. Bryson's descriptions make you feel as though you can see what he can sees. I really enjoyed The Lost Continent for this reason al...
  • Troy Blackford
    What a great look at what America is like on a micro-level. Having grown up in small towns in the Midwest, I really identified with the places (unfortunately, for the most part) that Bryson visited in his journey. I loved how Bryson, a Des Moines native, moved away to the UK for 20 years and thus explores the country as a knowing outsider. The tone of the book is almost explaining the US to the British, so it was great to get a fresh perspective ...
  • Benjamin Duffy
    As an experiment, if you ever decide you might like to read this book, first pick it up and simply read the opening sentence of each chapter. If I had done so, I probably wouldn't have bothered with the rest, and I would have been just as well off.The Lost Continent and I got off on the wrong foot. I knew something was amiss when the first chapter consisted of nothing more than Bill Bryson taking an enormous steaming dump on his home state of Iow...
  • Courtney Lindwall
    Bill Bryson will always be really, really, really fucking hilarious. When he's writing about boring suburbs and boring monuments, he's still super funny. When he's writing about walking through the woods for a good 1000-something miles, he's still super funny. That's pretty much why this book got 3 stars; I was laughing out loud almost continuously. But why it was 3 stars and not 4? Because I think Bryson did a shitty job representing small-town ...
  • Jill Furedy
    Huh. My dad liked Bryson's memoir, a friend liked his new one: At Home, and at work we sell lots of Short History. I like road trips, tourist traps and the rest so this seemed like a good place to start. Blurbs said it was funny. Don't think I laughed once. As it turns out, this was a fairly unwelcome journey on my part and I traveled it as begrudgingly as Bryson seems to have undertaken his trip. He's miserable the whole time...he hates tourist ...
  • J.
    I'm reading this in tandem with 'I'm a stranger here myself'. In this book Bryson covers ten of the lower 48 states, driving 13,978 miles. This is a whistle stop tour of small town America in the same way Paul Theroux glides through countries on the train. Even as an outsider I found this book to be particularly snarky, you couldn't accuse Bill of being sycophantic in the slightest about the old U S of A which has left some American reviewers fee...
  • Coyle
    Bill Bryson is an excellent writer; this book reads quickly; I enjoyed the process of reading it, the general narrative, and the humor therein.That said, either Bill Bryson is a huge jerk and America is a great place, or America is awful and Bill Bryson is just a decent guy being honest. Seriously, the book runs something like this:1) I don't like this town, it's all shoddy motels and neon signs and fast food. I want a quaint little town.2) I don...
  • Fiona Hurley
    "I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to." This is the memorable first line of Bill Bryson's first travelogue. Unfortunately, it's the best line in the book, and it's downhill from there.According to Bryson, the American people are stupid and fat, the towns are ugly, the countryside is boring, and everything is overpriced. He even fails to be impressed by Yosemite and Yellowstone, which takes some doing. If I were American, I might be offended. A...
  • RandomAnthony
    Ok, if you had a slightly cynical and funny uncle who doesn't want to say too much in front of your parents because he doesn't want to get in trouble about corrupting you and using curse words in your presence but as soon as your parents walk out of the room he tells you what he really thinks of Las Vegas, well, Bill Bryson could be that uncle. Now, I must admit to a fist-pumping appreciation of midwestern courtesy, which Bryson admires and misse...