cover image The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America

Bill Bryson. HarperCollins Publishers, $19.95 (314pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016158-3

Bryson, a freelance journalist, succumbed to nostalgia upon returning home to Iowa after living for 20 years in England: he decided to relive the dreary vacation car trips of his American childhood. Starting out at his mother's house in Des Moines, he motors through 38 states over the course of two months, looking for the quintessential American small town--something he never encountered as a boy, and certainly doesn't discover now, as he tours superhighways, motels, shopping malls, fast-food joints and tourist traps. And, like a bored, bemused minor tagging along after adults, he trashes almost everything he sees, including the Smithsonian Museum and the trees in Sequoia National Park. Some of Bryson's comments are hilarious--if you enjoy the nonstop whining wisecracks of a 36-year-old kid. First serial to Cond e Nast Traveler; BOMC alternate. (Sept.)