Book Review: Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson

Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson Title: Notes from a Big Country
Author: Bill Bryson
Publisher: Black Swan, Random House UK
ISBN: 9780552997867
Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays
Pages: 416
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

After all that I have read by Bill Bryson, I have come to believe that the man can write just about anything and make it funny. He can. That is almost an undisputed fact now, where I am concerned. You read any of his books and you will believe in what I say. He is uproariously funny and you would have to actually stop yourself from laughing too hard, might you pull a muscle or two.

I was on a flight from Bangalore to Bombay when I started reading “Notes from a Big Country” and if not all, then at least half the people on the flight must have thought I belong to the loony bin, and only because I could not control my laughter. He is one writer who can make me laugh. I have always struggled with humour in books. I cannot get it. I don’t seem to laugh out loud. Even The Hitchhiker’s Galaxy did not do it for me. I did not get it. That’s all.

Bill Bryson on the other hand never fails to make me laugh, to the point of snorting. The power of well-crafted words is something else and Bryson knows what to do and how. He was assigned a weekly column when he returned to America after two decades to write about the country. The column featured in Mail on Sunday’s Night & Day magazine, and ended with seventy-eight pieces. “Notes from a Big Country” was the name of the column, compiled into a book.

He writes about everything in America – from why so many people are dumb to why America is home, what is right with it (minimally) and what is wrong with it(quite sarcastically). May be this is precisely why the reader is never bored – the book somehow just breezes through. For instance, the piece on Christmas, he says this: “Christmas tree stands are the work of the devil and they want you dead”. Another one on a child artiste in a movie: “Also, Jane has a ten-year-old daughter played by one of those syrupy, pig tailed, revoltingly precocious child actors of the fifties that you just ache to push out of a high window.” Gems such as these and more, will only want you to snuggle into this book and not get out of the laughter coma induced by a single gentleman.

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