The Road to Little Dribbling
By Bill Bryson
Doubleday Books, Hardcover, 9780385539289, January 2016 400pp.
The Short of It:
Bryson’s long-awaited follow-up to Notes from a Small Island. As funny as Bryson can be, I was disappointed with this one.
The Rest of It:
Twenty years ago, Bryson took his readers on a farewell trip through England. That hilarious adventure was documented in Notes from a Small Island. He made the trip before moving his family to the US and now, years later was encouraged to make a return visit to some of those places even though he has since moved back to the UK.
Twenty years can change a person’s perspective and that is the case here. Bryson is a wonderful writer and has been a fave of mine for a very long time. He won me over with A Walk in the Woods and I’ve read many of his books over the last ten years; no matter the subject. The man can write.
This one comes off as somewhat hostile.
He’s still funny but all of his adventures are told with a slightly superior “I’m better than you” edge which made me a little uncomfortable. Clearly, his patience has been tested one too many times while writing this one. He has no tolerance for twits or stupid questions. I get it. The man is not perfect and I, too, have little patience for complete dolts, but over and over with the unkind comments became a little laborious to read. Many of the people he encounters anger him in some way. Or, he just chose to highlight those instances since they stuck out for him. Not sure.
In the end, this wasn’t the escape read I was hoping for but he’s still one of my favorite writers and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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18 thoughts on “Review: The Road to Little Dribbling”
Too bad, I was looking forward to this one!
That rots! I loved Notes from a Small Island. Oh well, I guess they can’t all be great reads. I’ll still give a it a read, but I’ll just wait to get to it later this year.
I do love his work so I’m disappointed to see this wasn’t his best.
Sounds like there might be some lighter experiences that are either absent here or were not had, which would be depressing.
He revisits the same places he did in the previous book but his patience is thin and there are a lot of idiots. I am not sure if that’s all he encountered of if those are just the interactions that stuck out. I know how easy it is for bad experiences to stick but these are just clueless people.
I might have to read Notes from a Small Island. I read Walk in the Woods and didn’t find it as funny as I expected to.
I thought A Walk in the Woods was hysterical but maybe it’s just because I’ve tried hiking and know how ridiculous it was for me on a grander scale. I could relate.
disappointing – plan to try this soon.
I’ve heard this from other people too! I’m not, I suppose, unduly surprised — Bryson has always had elements of the curmudgeon to him. But it’s a shame that it made the book unfun for you.
Yeah, I mean I’ve read his other books and there’s always this sarcastic humor which I love but it was different here. It seemed mean spirited almost like he was poking fun at people who, in their defense, just seemed rather clueless. I didn’t see a need to call them names and the like.
There is definitely that the line between between being funny, and just being plain mean-spirited. What a shame!
Yep. This one did feel a little mean-spirited. I have some of his other books I have yet to read. The more recent ones specifically, so I hope that was just a rare moment for him.
Boo. It is one thing to experience that negativity from time to time but constantly throughout a book would indeed be tiresome. I hope your next book is more fun and enjoyable!
So maybe I should try A Walk In The Woods first? 🙂 Fantastic review.
A Walk in the Woods is awesome. I mean, it prompted me to take up hiking which is SO not me. Of course, it’s not a habit that stuck because I had a hard time getting people to go with me and the idea of going alone at so early an hour made me a little nervous. I mean, what if a mountain lion tracked me or something? Or if I fell down a hill or something? The latter, a more likely possibility.
Oh thanks for the honest review on this Bryson book. I’m glad you told me — as I don’t think I’ll spend time with it. I aways wanted to read the first UK one “Notes From a Small Island” and I still want to read it. You liked that one right? A Walk in the Woods so far is my favorite of his, but I’d be open to more.
I read Notes from a Small Island so long ago but I do remember liking enough to want to read the follow-up. A Walk in the Woods is my fave to date and I know he’s written so many.
I agree. I’m on page 39 and putting it down. He is rude and belittling to the people of Britain, calling them stupid more than once. He complains about the landscape. The final comment had to do with Sean Hannity. I am not a fan of his, but to call another “shitty”, and “never should have happened”, turns my stomach. I’m not sure what that has to do with this story but I sure don’t want to read anymore.