“The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America”, Bill Bryson

Don’t you have to like something? Why travel? Why write about it? You should find something to like if you are going to bother to leave home. Mr. Bryson is amusing and witty in his disgust with large stretches of America. It’s probably easier to be funny than to be lyrical, but wit in the sole service of disgust wears thin. I can enjoy a page on Iowa’s desolation, and another page or two on the shades of beige that is Nebraska. But eventually I’d like you to like something somewhere — because I’m traveling with you, and I could have just as easily stayed home.

It’s not that he finds zero of interest; it’s just a matter of balance.
The book feels out of balance. You need to buy your right to be disgusted by showing us (show, don’t tell) that exquisite taste of yours which is so easily offended. Your exquisite taste, I say, which is observable in the act of loving the good, or the true, or beautiful. Your taste which brought you thousands of miles to see the green mountains of Vermont because you love the beauty of specific places more than most men do. Because: travel writer. You need to buy the seat of the aesthete before you perch in it.

I don’t think Bryson buys it.

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