While I was briefly under the impression that Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent was written by the cuddly old curmudgeon pictured on the back cover I rated it LOL for very funny. But once I found out that it was actually his first book, written when he was 33, his lovable vitriolic ways sounded a lot more spiteful.
The old people were noisy and excited, like schoolchildren, and pushed in front of me at the ticket booth, little realizing that I wouldn’t hesitate to give an old person a shove, especially a Baptist. Why is it, I wondered, that old people are always so self-centered and excitable? But I just smiled benignly and stood back, comforted by the thought that they would soon be dead.
I still enjoyed it though.
The book is a standard Bill Bryson travelogue with scathing, spur of the moment honesty uncensored by any regard for the recipient’s tender feelings. It’s funny to read the reviews at Amazon by all the people who’s town he trashed. They are all like, “No wonder he found BFE dead on a Thursday night. If he had come the night before, he could’ve have played bingo”.
Bill has an unnerving ability to say what you are thinking but in half the words and with twice the bile.
I wandered through room after room trying to find my way out, but the place was clearly designed to leave you disoriented. There were no windows, no exit signs, just endless rooms, all with subdued lighting and with carpet that looked as if some executive had barked into a telephone, “Gimme twenty thousand yards of the ugliest carpet you got.” It was like woven vomit.
That’s like every casino I have ever been in. When we lived in New York, G and I took the bus to Atlantic City – not to go to a casino, just for a day out.
As we got off the bus, they gave us $10 in quarters and a big plastic pot to keep them in so we felt obliged to go spend them. We managed to spend about $1.25 each and then wandered around for hours trying to find the way out. When we got back on the bus we still had about $18 in quarters.
…and who hasn’t done this?
And the toilet seat did not have a sanitized for your protection wrapper on it, denying me the daily ritual of cutting it with my scissors saying “I now declare this toilet open”.
The Lost Continent is very funny but not quite Bill Bryson funny. If you’ve read all the others, read this one too – unless you are a waitress or you live in BFE – but if you haven’t, read In a sunburnt country first.