Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Stranger in Your Homeland


At the suggestion of a friend, my wife purchased me a copy of I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away. I'm just getting started good, but the author, Bill Bryson, is laugh-out-loud funny! At age 18, Bryson moved to Englad where he began a career in journalism, married, and began a family. After spending twenty years in England, he returned to the United States with his family. The book is a memoir chronicling in brief chapters the various oddities and surprises of American life. If you're looking for a good read, light but insightful, engaging... might I recomment I'm A Stranger Here Myself.

From the publisher's website:

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. From motels ("one of those things--airline food is another--that I get excited about and should know better") to careless barbers ("in the mirror I am confronted with an image that brings to mind a lemon meringue pie with ears"), I'm a Stranger Here Myself chronicles the quirkiest aspects of life in America, right down to our hardware-store lingo, tax-return instructions, and vulnerability to home injury ("statistically in New Hampshire I am far more likely to be hurt by my ceiling or underpants than by a stranger").

Along the way Bill Bryson also reveals his rules for life (#1: It is not permitted to be both slow and stupid. You must choose one or the other); delivers the commencement address to a local high school ("I've learned that if you touch a surface to see if it's hot, it will be"); and manages to make friends with a skunk. 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 away.

2 comments:

Jerry said...

I read Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" and "In a Sunburned Land" a couple of years ago. Even though Bryson's language is sometimes "PG-13" (IIRC), his books are very funny.

Chris Roberts said...

I love Bryson. His A Short History of Nearly Everything is a great science book for those wanting an introduction to most major branches of science.