Few weeks back while at my US trip I read this book “Notes from a Big Country” by Bill Bryson. Like his other books, Bryson’s humour is unmistakable in this book as well. Like others have said in the Amazon’s book comments you will find yourself laughing loud in many places.
The book is a collection of a weekly column in Mail on Sundays Night and Day magazine in UK. So this book has been written more for an international audience who will find things different in USA from their country. Having visited USA many times I can say I was baffled too at many of similar scenes observed by Bryson. So in many places of the book I could relate to his experience and enjoy the scene. Commenting on common American living habits, you might be mistaken like some Americans (who have commented in Amazon) that Byrson is making “fun” of Americans at large. This being my fourth book written by Bryson, I can say that he has nothing against America, this is his style – It is the same when he writes about UK, Europe or even Shakespeare, so nothing different here. More than the scenes described, what I really liked is Bryson’s extraction of Humour from all the weird situations like the once I have mentioned below:
- Picture ID to be shown in US Airports (Bryson calls this as Permissible Visual Cognitive Imaging)
- Junk Food Heaven – “We don’t usually clean our fridge – we just box it up every four or five years and send it off to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta with a note to help themselves to anything that looks scientifically promising“
- The countless forms used by American Immigration – “You can spend days repeatedly dialling a phone number that is forever engaged, only to be told when you finally do get through that you must call another number, which the person tells you once in a mumble and you don’t quite catch before you are cut off“
- Commercials – “The new Dodge Backfire. Rated number one against the Chrysler Inert for Handling. Rated number one against the Plymouth Repellant for mileage“
- Cupholder Revolution – “But our computers don’t come with cupholders“
- Why no one walks – “Not long after we moved here we had the people next door round for dinner and – I swear this is true – they drove“
- The great indoors and the obsession for living always in a climate controlled environment – “Skywalks – enclosed pedestrian flyovers”
- Abundance of choice in American super markets – “Thirty five varieties of Crest Toothpaste“
- Spinning the truth – how the “special offer” advertisements exasperates the truth
If you have visited USA and felt things are different from your country then this book is a must read for you.