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Bill Bryson's New Travel Book - A review
Bill Bryson: One of Britain's Most Favoured ImportsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Hope it's warmer in "Little Dribbling!"
As it was a typical November morning today in jolly auld England - grey, damp and raining, I crawled back in bed with Bill after my morning coffee and toast.
I have done this many times over the last 20 or so years. Bill doesn't mind, he's not there in person, of course, and neither of us is homosexual, although we are often feeling gay.
Bill is Bill Bryson, the celebrated travel writer and one of the funiest men in print on the planet.
I have missed Bill's travel books for some years now, so it was with huge appreciation I saw his latest publication standing out from a horde of rubbish in my local Tesco.
Even although is was £15, an amount that usually secures me 10 or more books in charity shops, and although I only like hard backs in turtles, I wasn't going to wait a year to find this in paper-back, or used and into my cart it went.
I have all the books Bryson has ever written, a quite impressive collection, and have read them all at least twice; some, like "A Walk in the Woods," five or more times. (Love this book, now made into a movie with Redford standing in for Bill).
Some 15 years ago, Bill Bryson wrote an exceedingly hilarious acount of some of his early travels...travails might be a better word, in Great Britain. This was the well received "Notes from a Small Island," a treatment of the British character, accomodation, weather and public transport, along with much more. This laugh-a-minute "guide" to our strengths, foibles and idiosyncrasies, amused most British readers and infuriated the more insecure.
Brysons latest book, called "The Road to Little Dribbling," which I am just finishing, is more of the same, a trip around his adopted home, the British Isles, and how it has changed for the better and worse in the intervening years.
Bill Bryson, to the unaquainted, is an American from the Midwest, who has lived between several addresses in the USA and England; currently, he lives in Hampshire, finding the chilly mists of East Anglia hard on his 63-years-old lumbago, (I made that up, Bill, forgive me). He has seemed to drift south in Britain, though, it is warmer and drier in Hampshire than his previous addresses here.
Bryson has received all sorts of accolades as a writer and as just a warm and perceptive human being. He may stay with us this time as he has recently been made a British citizen (economic migrant!?) and an account of his exam to acquire this right is in the book. He passed with flying colours, apparently after taking some years to screw up his courage to take the exam...not easy for non-English speakers such as North Americans! (my comment).
Bill explores a lot of new territory in "...Dribbling," yet a tad too much for my liking of the original tour is repeated here. That's fine if you missed the first publication and that is what probably prompted the author to include these delicious titbits. Laudibly, these familiar experiences were written in different order: more added, some removed, so Bill did the fairest job all around with his new readers - if not his devotees - in mind.
Bryson has the most exquisite comic touch, both cutting and kind in turn; it's no use me trying to quote the best bits, every page has the reader chuckling or belly-laughing. Most will "get" Bill's scathing and perceptive analysis of the socio/economic scene, and comic take of Britain in 2015. This book is sure to have many politicians, city fathers, architects and corporation heads writhing in discomfort over what the author describes as their feckless ruination of this poor, beleagured little island.
Bryson repeatedly hastens to assure his following, or noviate readers, that, despite it all, Britain is a wonderful place to live, work and bring up a family - after all, he doesn't have to be here, the whole of that great nation, the USA, can be his playground any time he wants (he retains dual nationaliy - good thinking Bill). Something to do with his choice of residence may be his British wife and three kids. His books have made him - he admits - pots of money, so regularly changing addresses and even countries is not the problem is is for we poor...poor!
Bill Bryson has done a lot of work behind the scenes for charities and local councils, and also appeared regularly on TV talk shows. He now says he would rather get away from all that and, in his dotage, (his words) just write more books.
We sure hope that is the outcome, Bill, it is what you do best and probably millions of readers charmed by the quality of your books on travel, science and all the rest, will be feeling gay as they read these words.
Don't wait around for this one inthe cheaper venues, Hubbers, it's well worth the jacket price!
Heck, no one's looking, Bill, let's pick up where we left off, I want to finish this heart-warming book.