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Notes from a Small Island Paperback – May 15, 2001
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Britain fascinates Americans: it's familiar, yet alien; the same in some ways, yet so different. Bryson does an excellent job of showing his adopted home to a Yank audience, but you never get the feeling that Bryson is too much of an outsider to know the true nature of the country. Notes from a Small Island strikes a nice balance: the writing is American-silly with a British range of vocabulary. Bryson's marvelous ear is also in evidence: "... I noted the names of the little villages we passed through--Pinhead, West Stuttering, Bakelite, Ham Hocks, Sheepshanks ..." If you're an Anglophile, you'll devour Notes from a Small Island.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
If you read A Walk in the Woods and felt a deep yearning to walk the Appalachian trail, haul out your suitcase. This book will make you want to follow Bryson's footsteps again as he travels across England, Wales, and Scotland by foot, by bus, and by train. He spends a day or so in dozens of small towns and cities, disecting them for our education and amusement. He tours galleries, musuems, and historic homes; visits pubs and restaurants; and stays in an amazing variety of shoddy hotels. (There are fine hotels in England. They just cost more than he is willing to pay.)
Even if you don't plan to go to England anytime soon (and why not? it's a lovely country full of friendly people we Americans and Canadians can mostly understand) this book is a reminder to those of us who are far too insular that the world out there is different and that difference is a good and quite frequently amusing thing.
If y! ou are a Bryson fan, this is as good as he gets. You will especially enjoy it if you have spent time in both the US and the UK.
The only reason I didn't rate the book 5 stars is that, a few times too often, Bryson goes into great detail about how rude he was toward service people who were just doing their jobs and whose performance wasn't precisely what he wanted. He reaches a low point when he takes almost a page to describe his reaction to a McDonald's employee who made the mistake of asking if he wanted "an apple turnover with that." Maybe it's because I've waited tables, but Bryson struck me as exactly the kind of arrogant, self-righteous, condescending customer you prayed you wouldn't have to serve. He comes close in these passages to personifying the ugly American: willing to enjoy England's riches, but not tolerant of its shortcomings.
Nevertheless, that's no reason not to read the book. Bryson's insights into the places he visits are more than worth the price of admission.
Fresh from a reading of Bryson's brilliant Appalachian travelogue, "A Walk in the Woods", I was psyched and I had enormously high expectations for "Notes From a Small Island". But, in the words of the Britons whom he had lived amongst for almost 20 years, "it were a bloomin' disappointment wot didn't come up to snuff!"
Oh, to be sure, there were moments of unutterably funny comic brilliance! But I found that on far too many occasions, Bryson used the book as a platform to preach and whine, over and over again, about the loss of British architectural heritage to the ravages of much more boring 20th century buildings and lack luster store fronts. And, please don't misunderstand me ... I couldn't agree more! To tear down some of these beautiful structures that are hundreds of years old or to raze a hedgerow for no other purpose than to erect a mall filled with a Boots, a Marks & Spencer and a MacDonalds is an unforgivable travesty. But, bless me, Bryson seemed to go on and on ... and on again!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hoping for light commuting reading, but the fluffy nature of the writing kept being interrupted by bursts of hostile tone, directed suddenly at various hapless Limeys Bryson... Read morePublished 3 hours ago by Jeddy 3
Educational... along with a dash of brutal sarcasm for humorPublished 3 hours ago by Fred Tarburton
all his books are good - and an entertaining - interesting read.- will definitely read more.Published 4 hours ago by RITAS
He seemed to hate almost everything about Britian but then claimed to love itPublished 2 days ago by Lauren David
Having lived in England for 4 years, I found Bryson's pomposity and arrogance irritating. In many instances, he failed miserably to walk the line between laughter-inducing... Read morePublished 5 days ago by Barbara J. Shrout
Bill Bryson is simply the best travel writer ever. There are times he makes me laugh 'til I cry, and that is not an exaggeration.Published 6 days ago by scottincarmel