Bill Bryson’s first travel book opened with the immortal line, ‘I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.’ In his deeply funny new memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about growing up in a specific time and place. But in Bryson’s hands, it becomes everyone’s story, one that will speak volumes – especially to anyone who has ever been young.
My View (no spoilers)
Notes on a small island is one of my favourite book and holds the honour of the only book that has ever made me laugh out loud but I have not read any other of Brysons books until now.
Here he talks not about his travels but his journey through his childhood in 1950/60s America.
He delves into his personal history as well as the shape of America at the time, tackling politics, boyhood antics, racial tension and scientific developments in an age where technology was just beginning to take off.
It was a book of ups and downs for me. Parts of it were extremely educational and interesting to read, other parts were fairly humourous. I think the problem for me was that it flitted around.
Each anecdotal section was compact but as a whole it was disjointed and didn’t flow. I enjoyed learning about America’s relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, I also enjoyed reading about Bryson’s first sexual awakening and his attempts to sneak into the strippers tent at the state fair but they didn’t link up in my mind.
I think it is the sort of book that different sections will appeal to different people. That is the beauty of it. A little something for everyone.
I read a paperback version of this book.
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd (2 Jun. 2007)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00974USVG