Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)
The newest travel book from Bill Bryson was hot off the press when I snapped up my copy at Books & Company. I am an inveterate Bryson fan, and I could barely wait to read this follow-up to Notes From a Small Island, my all-time favorite.
The premise is the same as any other Bryson travel book: crotchety middle-aged man travels around observing the locals, relating interesting anecdotes, and drinking excessive amounts of beer. In this case, he is touring Britain, just as he did twenty years ago for Notes From a Small Island.
I think one of the reasons I particularly enjoy Bryson’s writing is that he likes history. Some travel writers like to talk about food, or scenery, or whatever je ne sais quoi makes anyplace someplace. Bryson’s schtick is history–the stranger, the better. He loves nothing more than a monument to a long-forgotten personage, like the plaque commemorating the site where the first person to be killed by a train perished in 1830. I, too, love those kinds of esoteric historical details.
For everyone who is not a history buff, Bryson’s inimitable sense of humor is his main selling point. The man is a hoot. He is unfailingly polite to everyone he meets, but in his mind (and on the page), he berates them for every infraction from slow service to poor grammar. I found myself chuckling fewer times during Little Dribbling than I have with other Bryson books, but there were still chortles aplenty. Maybe he’s getting a little gentler in his old age.
The final segment of the population to whom this book will appeal are the Anglophiles. Bryson is an American by birth, but he has lived in Britain for most of his adult life. His affection for the British people, their way of life, and the land itself shines clearly through all his grumbling. If you, like I, believe you are a British soul trapped in an American body, you and Bill will get along famously.
Located in Adult Nonfiction (914.1048 BRY)