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If you ever wanted to know how would an American, who has spent last twenty years of his life on another continent, behave when he comes home after all that time, then “Notes from a big country” is a great book for you. Bill Bryson explains his advantages and disadvantages of being away for so long and puts the differences of United Kingdom and United States into perspective in a number of columns he wrote. These columns were written from September of 1996.
, every week for two full years. It is a collection of short essays on garbage disposals, language peculiarities due to vast cultural and geographical differences, as well as quintessential discrepancies between the life of an American and an Englishman through everyday trivial events such as going to the post office. Satirical and humoristic vibe is easily noticeable as it is a big and consistent part of almost every column in this collection. It is a mix of British and American comedy depicting the two countries through criticism and appraisal of both American and British values from an approach of insider as well as a stranger.
His divided identity of a born American that spent his key years of life in England has left him stranded and almost lost so that he was forced to find his way out through humour and satire.
The reader will find himself dumbfounded as they read about everyday, mundane things in a manner that is peculiar only for a satirical mind of a writer such is Bill Bryson.
The value of the book lies in the fact that it portrays one powerful message and that is that differences are not negative, they can help you experience life through more complex lens and notice relations that one would not notice by living in only one country and behaving in accordance with one cultural paradigm. All in all, this book might not seem like it holds any valuable lessons, but if we look deeper into the meaning of every word that Bryson intentionally used, we will see that this book is much more than a collection of newspaper columns.
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