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Notes from a Big Country Mass Market Paperback – June 5, 1999

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Editorial Reviews


"One of his best books" -- Scott Bradfield Independent "Delightful bite-size essays that exude affection while debunking the ridiculous with wonderful succinctness... This is not a book to be read in a single sitting. It is one to be savoured" -- Martin Fletcher The Times "Bill Bryson's answer to Alistair Cooke's Letter From America...not only hilarious but also insightful and informative" -- Jeremy Atiyah Independent on Sunday "Bryson is great when explaining the idiosyncracies of America to middle England and making it funny... He is both serious and contemtuously funny" Guardian

From the Inside Flap

When an old friend asked him to write a weekly dispatch from New Hampshire for the Mail on Sunday's Night and Day magazine, Bill Bryson firmly turned him down. So firm was he, in fact, that gathered here are nineteen months' worth of his popular columns about the strangest of phenomena -- the American way of life.Whether discussing the dazzling efficiency of the garbage disposal unit, the mind-boggling plethora of methods by which to shop, the exoticism of having your groceries bagged for you, or the jaw-slackening direness of American TV, Bill Bryson brings his inimitable brand of bemused wit to bear on the world's richest and craziest country. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (June 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552997862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552997867
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa. For twenty years he lived in England, where he worked for the Times and the Independent, and wrote for most major British and American publications. His books include travel memoirs (Neither Here Nor There; The Lost Continent; Notes from a Small Island) and books on language (The Mother Tongue; Made in America). His account of his attempts to walk the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods, was a huge New York Times bestseller. He lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his wife and his four children.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By R. Peterson on March 19, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
Bryson, one of the funniest 'blokes' around, has collected a series of articles he was commissioned to write for a London newspaper. After living for twenty years in English he has moved his family back to the States to the lovely Hanover, NH to set up life anew. To preface these very funny pieces he explains that although he spent his youth in the sticky summers of Iowa (and retains a deep love for the game of baseball) he spent his adulthood in the UK where he learned to deal with grown-up issues (mortgages, taxes, putting in screens, getting the lawn mowed whilst on holiday, etc..). This is the perfect preface because, of course, he now finds that he is confronted with the country of his birth and is acutely aware of all of the ridiculous things he can now view as an outsider. He speaks to us about the pleasures of living in a small town where they (he is amazed) don't have to lock the doors and he can go to an honest-to-God diner for the slop they serve there as well as the absurdities found in every aisle of the typical American supermarket (the piece about the trip to the market and his insistence on buying a cart full of junk food that Mrs. B tells him he can only get if he will really eat it is a riot) and his discovery of 'breakfast pizza'. You don't have to have lived overseas to understand what can be frustrating about returning 'home' into culture shock once you read Bryson's simple and frankly logical, descriptions of what he sees after his absence. And any American who HAS dealt with the bureaucracies in other countries will weep with laughter and feel the pain as Bryson tries to get his wife (of 20+ years) a green card and to get the US government, sometime later, to divulge her social security number. Very, very funny stuff.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By TRACY B. on June 7, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
If you read "I'm a Stranger Here Myself", dodn't but this book.
I believe "I'm a Stranger...." is the American release of "Notes....Big Country"
Regardless, they're both an excellent collection of short essays. Typical funny, witty, smart-alec Bryson.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Clyde Phillips on March 2, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In spite of all the xenophobic rants from our "love it or leave it" reviewers, Bryson is not out to bring down the good ole U.S. of A., but only to give to British readers glimpses of America that they don't normally see on reruns of "Law and Order", "The O.C.", or the myriad other American TV imports that are slowly taking over British television. If some of his subjects might upset some of these readers, they need to get over it. The columns, and the book in which the columns were compiled, were NOT meant for them in the first place. The columns that make up this book were written between October 1996 and May 1998 and published in the Mail on Sunday's Night and Day magazine for a primarily British audience. The selling point for this run of articles was that Bryson would be returning to the States after some twenty years in Britain and that the America he would be describing would be seen by the eyes of an American, but an American that had absorbed enough of Britannia to become something of a hybrid. The resulting columns would naturally be informative, witty, and penetrating.

Unfortunately, this goal was only partially successful. Bryson can be a very insightful observer, and his writing style is infectious enough, but now and then it seems that he is neither interested in the subject of which he writes nor is he able to bring the full talent of his art to the task. Both of these weaknesses are apparent in this collection of articles. The subject of his notes run the gamut from the obesity and ignorance of a goodly portion of the American population to the wonders and brilliance of the American landscape. And since these writings were intended for "light" reading there is an attempt to make them humorous.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Johann Nemetz on April 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Bill Bryson's book is one of the most funniest books I ever read. I read it on flights from Europe to America and in american restaurants and the poeple looked at my when I was laughing and I wiped the tears from my eyes. All these funny stories writen with some black british humor about the american way of live from a man born in Iowa, living as an adult for 20 years in Britain and returning back to NH are true in the eyes of an european. When I came first to the USA, aged 45, I was full of prejudice. When I left, I knew everything was true and it's documented in this book. This is the way for aliens to learn how to love the american citizens and the american everyday live.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Theresa May on September 29, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bill Bryson knows America, he was born here, He knows England , he lived there for many years, and Bill Bryson knows how to write satirical sendups on eveything our wonderful (?) culture has to offer. His "Drowning in red tape" offering is so funny it could probably make the Immigration authorities laugh, and that's pretty funny. If you want a good chuckle at the foibles of America, get this book, you'll love it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By chupchup on February 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Bill Bryson is hilarious! I read this book on the train to work and many a times i had to resist myself from laughing out loud !!
In this book, Bill Bryson has complied a collection of short essays which he wrote when he returned to the States. The essays are both informative and hilarious!
Don't read this book in one sitting. Safe it for days when you are feeling down and in need of a good laugh!
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