BILL BRYSON - "NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND" (BLACK SWAN)
"The one notable draw back with these OS maps is that sometimes perhaps they give you too much detail. With so many possible landscape features to choose among; it's easy to convince yourself that you are pretty much where you want to be. You see a grove of trees and you stroke your chin and think, Well now, let's see, that must be Hanging Snot Wood, which means that that odd-looking hillock is almost certainly Jumping Dwarf Barrow, in which case that place on the far hill must be Desperation Farm... And so you stride off confidently until you come against some obviously unexpected landscape feature like Portsmouth and realise that you have gone somewhat astray."
This is yet another of Bryson's sheer masterpieces. With wit, and sarcasm so deeply embedded in the factually accurate text you should probably consult your doctor to find out if it is safe for you to snort our load for long periods of time. I personally found it must be safer and better on my stomach muscles to read it in short passages at a time.
Bryson's travels this time have lead him around Britain on a whistle stop tour before he returns to his native land of the States. However, unlike most members of the British population, as they would regard it as plain stupidity, he decides to do it entirely on public transport. You follow him as he returns to all the places he had been to many years before and read on intently as he finds out in town after town that the quaint little coffee shops have all been replaced by McDonalds.
As with all of Bryson's books it is a laugh a paragraph, but also being highly informative in a completely useless sort of way. Do we really need to know that a rail ticket to Barnstable is BP 4.40? but it's still highly interesting in a strange way. There is one word of warning to go with this book, Bryson is not an overly kind man...... if you are extremely patriotic about where you live, he may have been there, and you may not want to read about it...but the rest of it is great!
Released 1995, ISBN 0-522-99600-9
Written October 1998
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