Bill Bryson Gold

bill-bryson-goldYou know how I mentioned that I have a big old brain crush on Bill Bryson?

Well, I finally finished The Lost Continent – Travels in Small-Town America yesterday and I just wanted to share some of Bill’s descriptions with you. He has the rare gift of being irreverent and cerebral; poetic and crass. I can only hope that one day, I will be one per cent as good as this guy.

On English weather: ‘For months the sky had remained a depthless grey. Sometimes it rained, but mostly is was just dull, a land without shadows. It was like living inside Tupperware.’

On Pella, Iowa: ‘It was steeped in that kind of dead silence that makes you begin to wonder, if you are of a suitably hysterical nature, if perhaps everybody has been poisoned in the night by a leak of odourless gas – which even now could be taking insidious control of your own nervous system – turning Pella into a Pompeii of the plains.’

On the Tetons mountain range: ‘At any rate, the first French explorers who passed through north-western Wyoming took one look at the mountains and said, ‘Sut alors! Hey Jacques, clock those mountains. They look just like my wife’s tetons.’ Isn’t it typical of the French to reduce everything to a level of sexual vulgarity? Thank goodness they didn’t discover the Grand Canyon, that’s all I can say. And the remarkable thing is that the Tetons look about as much like tits as … well, a frying-pan or a pair of hiking boots. In a word, they don’t look like tits at all, except perhaps to desperately lonely men who have been away from home for a very long time. They looked a little bit like tits to me.’

On the worst meal ever: ‘The waitress was real friendly, but she had little open sores all over her hands and arms and only about three teeth, and her apron looked as if she had spent the afternoon butchering piglets. This put me off my dinner a bit, to tell you the truth, and then she brought my dinner and that put me off eating altogether. It was absolutely the worst food I have ever had in America, at any time, under any circumstances, and that includes hospital food, gas station food and airport coffee shop food. Greyhound Bus Station food and Woolworth’s luncheon counter food. It was worse than the pastries they used to put in the food-dispensing machines at the Register and Tribune buildings in Des Moines and those tastest like somebody had been sick on them.’

If you want to borrow my copy of the book, just email me and I will post it to you. I will be buying every Bill Bryson book I can get my dirty hands on so feel free to think of me as a very niche library service.

2 comments on “Bill Bryson Gold

  1. My favourite (from Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe):
    My [flight] seatmate turned out to be an acned stringbean with Buddy Holly glasses and a line-up of ballpoint pens clipped into a protective plastic case in his shirt pocket. He spent most of the flight reading Holy Scripture, voicing the words just loud enough for me to hear them as a fervent whisper in my right ear. I don’t know why religious zealots have this compulsion to try to convert everyone who passes before them. Nowadays, when accosted I explain to them that anyone wearing white socks and Hush Puppies and a badge saying ‘Hi! I’m Gus!’ probably couldn’t talk me into getting out of a burning car, much less into making a lifelong commitment to a deity.

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