LEIGH FORBES: Books of all Sorts

The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island

by Bill Bryson.

Twenty years after Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson tours Britain again. With the “Bryson Line” as his guide, the he (roughly) follows his own footsteps, from Bognor Regis on England’s south coast to the very North of Scotland. On the way, he reflects on how things have changed since his last time around and, it seems, how it’s all gone to the dogs.

Bryson sounds tired now. I don’t blame his anger and cynicism in the face of modern life (particularly when it comes to destroying vast swathes of British countryside for the sake of money); but it meant this book lacked the joyous escapism we’ve come to know and love. While there are still many instances of the trademark pithiness and laugh-out-loud humour, there’s a noticeable amount of grumpiness and intolerance too; and, whereas I’d usually finish a Bryson book with a big grin, this time it was more of a sigh.

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