$28.95ISBN: 9780385539289Availability: On Our Shelves NowPublished: Doubleday Books - January 19th, 2016
When reading The Road to Little Dribbling, the first thing that stands out about Bill Bryson is (in case you didn’t already know this) that he’s funny. Laugh-out-loud-at-3 a.m. funny. The second is that he’s a curmudgeon. An elderly one. Which is also funny. Although if you’re of an age his comments make you wince in sympathy even as you laugh. The third is that he’s insatiably curious. About everything. And the fourth is that, as a result of that curiosity, he’s incredibly knowledgeable. About everything. Which makes accompanying him on his journey from one end of Britain to another an unmitigated joy. Bryson plans his journey around traveling the furthest distance between two points in Britain, discovering in the process that folk wisdom on this point is wrong—not the first time he’ll debunk accepted knowledge. He sets out from Bogner Regis, traveling north toward Cape Wrath, his final destination, by rented car, by bus, by train, and by foot wherever he can. Along bucolic byways he discusses the possibility of rampaging cow—not bulls but cows—engages in vitriolic (but funny) exchanges with rude shopkeepers, dissects everything from modes of transportation to hotels to pubs and restaurants, his criticism spot on, his enthusiasm contagious. Bryson loves London as much as he does rural England and he’s never met a museum he didn’t adore. Well, that’s not entirely true. He has pithy comments for those which miss-label and misspell, but a good museum is the door to history, and Bryson loves history. And Archeology. Which makes reading him not just a pleasure but a learning experience of the highest order, the best way I can think of to start the new year—except, perhaps, embarking on the Road to Little Dribbling yourself (wherever that is), his book in hand. Although if you do so, do try to avoid rampaging cows along the way.