Bill Bryson is an American who lived for ten years in England and then returned to the USA, where he set off by car to explore his native land, driving almost 14,000 miles in the process. Like his other books, this one contains plenty of one-line jokes and is easy to read, though there are some serious undertones. America emerges in his pages as a land covered with near-identical motels, gas stations, and fast food outlets; the dominant themes are greed and pollution, and still darker notes are struck as Bryson remarks on the ease with which motiveless murders are committed and remain unsolved. Even so, a similar book written today would no doubt be considerably more sombre.
Bryson is always an agreeable travelling companion but I did find that the journey became somewhat monotonous after a time. One place begins to sound much like another, which was doubtless the case, and the freeway miles seem to stretch out endlessly between stops. Some maps would have been useful for readers outside the USA.
12 February 2003