Have you ever wondered whether there is anything that you cannot purchase in this country? Or why, when you go to rent a car, the person behind the counter always tries to sell you insurance coverage for every possible contingency? Or why, with the seemingly endless number of television channels available in the US, there still isn’t anything worth watching? These questions, and many others, occur to Bill Bryson, master humorist and best selling author of A Walk in the Woods. His latest book, I’m a Stranger Here Myself, (subtitled ‘Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away’), details in Bryson’s inimical way the myriad baffling changes the author encounters upon his return to the land of his birth following an extended sojourn in England.
Consider, for example, the subject of statistics, which Bryson does as only he can. “Here’s a fact for you: According to the latest Statistical Abstract of the United States, every year more than 400,000 Americans suffer injuries involving beds, mattresses, or pillows. Think about that a minute. That is almost 2,000 bed, mattress, or pillow injuries a day. In the time it takes you to read this article, four of my fellow citizens will somehow manage to be wounded by their bedding.
My point in raising this is not to suggest that we are somehow more inept than the rest of the world when it comes to lying down for the night (though clearly there are thousands of us who could do with additional practice), but rather to observe that there is scarcely a statistic to do with this vast and scattered nation that doesn’t in some way give one pause.”
I’m a Stranger Here Myself is an outrageous, sometimes poignant, and brilliantly funny look at the US, its quirky inhabitants, and their foibles. Don’t miss Bryson’s bemused, antic, reunion with his homeland - be sure to read all about it!
Copyright © 2003, S. Halversen.
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