Travels with Bill

Dec 17, 2015 | 3 comments

IMG_0913We headed out at dawn’s crack – even before the chickens were up and clucking. No time for blogging – just eat, throw suitcases in the car and we were off. I felt like we were driving Santa’s sleigh – the back end was full of Christmas surprises and the seat behind us was overflowing with everything else.

Somewhere back there, reachable but not visible, was a box of books on CDs. My groping produced I’m A Stranger Here Myself: Notes on ‘Returning to America after Twenty Years Away (1999) by the inimitable Bill Bryson.

I’ve traveled with Bill before – sort of. The last time was in Wales and we happened to pick up a magazine or a newspaper or it could have been a book (it was a long time ago – maybe 15 years!) and there he was, talking about the very corner of Wales that we were in. He told about a chemistry teacher at a nearby school who was J.K. Rowling’s model for Snapes… or at least I think that’s what I remember.

IMG_0914The short stories we listened to today were actually written for a British audience – a series of columns about Bryson’s re-entry to the country of his birth and growing-up years, and from which he had become unknowingly estranged. He wrote of what had happened to telephones during his absence and how grocery stores had become clotted with junk foods (over 200 kinds of sugary breakfast cereals!) and the frustrations of getting in touch with a computer help line.

We only got through two of the eight discs and then switched to a C.J. Box’s The Highway which is more gripping but not nearly as much fun, as far as I’m concerned. Of course, I might be a bit biased. Bill Bryson often writes about the same things I’ve blogged about. We both seem to be intrigued by similar twists in American culture. For him, it’s a comparison to life in Britain of 20 to 30 years ago. For me, the comparison is often to life in my childhood 60 or 70 years ago. And I think I’ll leave it at that…


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    I LOVE books on CD. They make the miles fly by!

  2. Patrica

    Have a great trip. Hi to Charlie from us and a very “Merry Christmas “!

  3. Vicki Carter

    We just started watching a movie about Bill Bryson! I remembered reading this blog earlier this evening! I love his books!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *