Notes from a Big Country

I picked this off my bookshelf last week, looking for something light to pass the time in waiting rooms at the hospital, and ended up re-reading the whole book. This collection of columns about life in the USA, written for the Mail on Sunday in the late 90s, is Bill Bryson at his usual high standard. (Actually, I only dislike one of his books – A Walk in the Woods – and I don’t really dislike it all that much.) As ever, he’s at his funniest when writing about the problems just about all of us have encountered at one time or another: getting a new PC up and running, dealing with airline check-in desks, providing the correct form of visual ID.

But he can also turn out totally serious pieces about the war on drugs, the disappearance of independent shops and restaurants, the ways the US wastes so much energy, and the lie companies tell when they announce changes designed to increase ‘the customer’s convenience’. This book’s so good that I wish he’d move back to the USA and produce a follow-up. One can but dream.


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