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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Bill Bryson is a man caught between two countries. After living in England for 20 years, Bill Bryson returned to America and found himself in a foreign land of microwave pancakes and garbage disposals. Bryson, author of the bestselling A Walk in the Woods, began writing a weekly newspaper column about life in America for a British publication, Night & Day. This column evolved into I'm a Stranger Here Myself, a hilarious portrait of America in all its bizarre glory.
Bryson's sketches of the quirks, hassles, and joys of American life are witty and vivid, and contain a delicious irony in that the American author is writing a travel narrative about the strangeness of life in America. ATMs, pay phones, and automated gas pumps are all sources of confusion and potential embarrassment for Bryson -- and, for readers, gales of laughter. His piece on junk food is one of the best, complete with a frenzied Bryson grabbing packages left and right from grocery store shelves. In his litany to junk food, Bryson fantasizes about sugary breakfast cereals, spray can cheese, breakfast pizza, and all of the unhealthy things his English wife never brings home. He later changes his tune when his wife forces him to actually eat all of the junk he bought.
As a travel writer, Bryson's eye is finely tuned to the small things that distinguish one place from another. In I'm a Stranger Here Myself, you get a glimpse of the essence of America through these small details. The friendliness of using first names, the absurdity of long PIN numbers, the mysteries of the hardware store -- for Bill Bryson, it means home.