Biography & Autobiography. Essays. Nonfiction. Humor (Nonfiction.) HTML:A classic from the New York Times bestselling author of A Walk in the Woods and The Body. After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly 3 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliensâ??as he later put it, "it was clear my people needed me"). They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty-four-hour dental-floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item. Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I'm a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth. The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man's attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but it is also an extended if at times bemused love letter to the homeland he has returned to after twenty years aw
For the most part the book's chapters (each about 3 and a half pages) muse on about the culture shock of how much things
Byson's actual humor is nearly silly, self-deprecating, and incredibly situational. No matter what his subject is, I will find myself emitting a series of laughs; from snickering giggles to donkey-like guffaws.
A few times Bryson strays from the subject from which the book presents itself from its own synopsis; especially the chapters regarding the Titanic's last night (though, here he is picking on the British) and his commencement speech he gives to a college.
But, gosh, I do love a good, witty observation of culture shock, and this book is plenty stocked.
I read this 11 years after it was published (and 15 years after the authorâs return stateside), which gave the book an interesting and unintended effect. Brysonâs shock is at how different life is in the U.S. compared to the U.K. -- the readerâs shock is at how different life is in the present compared to the recent past. Faxes? Pay Phones? Going to local library to look up a reference? Video Stores? Finding it a ridiculous affront when you must show photo ID before boarding a plane? Tearing articles out of newspapers to put in a clip file? VCRs? Paper airline tickets? The prospect of a Y2K meltdown? All of these seem as foreign to me as the U.S. seems to Bryson. Has life really changed that much in the last ten to fifteen years? Obviously so...
Brysonâs writing is snappy and entertaining and even though many of his observations are dated, they are still funny and interesting on levels Bryson never intended.
In actuality, Bryson's book was, in a word, delightful. I thoroughly enjoyed his opening essay about the differences between English and American postal services. However, for the most part the comparisons ended there. It was more about how nonsensical America could be with it's rules and regulations. It reminded me of Robert Fulghum with his humorous observations.
âIâm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Awayâ by Bill Bryson is a collection of seventy comical weekly columns written for the British newspaper âMail on Sundayâ in 1996-1998. After living in Britain for almost two decades, Bryson
1) Thoughtful, sidesplittingly hilarious and seemingly effortless.
I sincerely donât remember the last time a BOOK made me laugh out loud so hard, so many times. It seems like Bryson can write an engaging, thoughtful and, above all, hilarious essay about absolutely ANYTHING, let it be dental floss, breakfast pizza, keyboard, garbage disposal, cupholder, or taxes. What is more, he makes the writing seem effortless, as if he wrote the essays as fast as Iâve read them.
2) Charismatic personality.
In addition to being clumsy and childishly silly, Bryson is often grumpy and rather whiny. But, underneath his crankiness, you can see a glimpse of a warm, bright, observant, humble, and extremely witty personality that instantly wins you over. Oh, and he NEVER misses a chance to laugh at himself.
3) Outdated but still quite relevant.
Although âIâm a Stranger Here Myselfâ was written more than sixteen years ago, in its pages I could easily recognize my own impressions of the US when I first came here five years ago (choice abundance, vastness of the country, incomprehensive tax forms and bizarre junk food options, just to name a few). I guess some things never change. The other more time-sensitive essays on technology and â90s statistics as well as snippets from the authorâs childhood maybe are not that relevant but definitely highly entertaining (and also quite educational).
COULD BE BETTER:
1) Not meant to be read all at once.
âIâm a Stranger Here Myselfâ is kind of a bathroom read and is most enjoyable if read in short spurts over time (like weekly columns are supposed to be read). Otherwise, the essays become a little bit repetitive and tiresome, and Brysonâs whining, though truly hilarious, finally gets to you.
VERDICT: 4 out of 5
âIâm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Awayâ is a collection of thoughtful, hilarious and still quite relevant weekly columns on American lifestyle in the 90s, and it is best read in short spurts over time.
This collection was published nearly 15 years ago, and it strikes me how what was amusing anecdotes back then have blown to tragic proportions and are no longer funny (our national disregard for energy conservation and pollution control, the cost of college among other things). Sure, some of the essays seemed dated, but by and large I found It entertaining and probably no less relevant today.
Bryson is one of my very favorite authors, and I enjoyed this book very much. All that said, this is not his very
But if this is one of your first forays into Bryson, I hope you won't let this book dissuade you from reading his other excellent publications.
Not every article works - not all articles can. His piece about the frustrations of modern computing is
Everyone loves America beating, don't they?