It’s been a little while since Bill Bryson’s last travel adventure, and in all fairness he’s not going too far away in his latest outing, The Road To Little Dribbling: More Notes From A Small Island. His last travel outing was his 2002 African Diary, with the intervening time featuring everything from A Short History Of Nearly Everything, The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid, Shakespeare: The World As Stage, At Home: A Short History Of Private Life and One Summer: America 1927, all of which required little in the way of road trips.
However, throughout the 90’s Bryson made a name for himself with his quirky, honest and self deprecating travel writing style, which provided a unique insight into the places he visited. One of the most memorable of these was Notes From A Small Country, which delved under the counterpane of life in the British Isles and now the American emigre will be picking up the thread of his assessment twenty years on from his first journey into a land he’s come to call home.
The hardback release for The Road To Little Dribbling was on the 8th October 2015, making it his first travel book of the decade. The date coincides a little with his first movie outing too, as the A Walk In The Woods film hit cinemas in the UK on the 18th September 2015, with Nick Nolte and Robert Redford taking on the roles of Bill Bryson and his wood walking partner, Stephen Katz.
In his latest jaunt around Britain, he’ll be on the hunt to find out what’s changed since his last hop around Blighty. The route he’s taken this time around, which he’s called the Bryson Line in an attempt to enter the history books and put his name to a geographical phenomenon, took him from Bognor Regis on the South coast of England up to Cape Wrath on the Northern Westerly tip of Scotland. It’s the longest straight line you can draw on the map of the UK and who knows, maybe in a few years we’ll all be adding the Bryson Line to our bucket lists.
Along the way there’s bound to be a few obscure places, and these will undoubtedly have some brilliant names if the title of the book is anything to go by, so you should get a good few new additions for your comedy lexicon to add to the Upper and Lower Pleasure Gardens in Bournmouth. While the names are still as batty as ever, apparently Bill discovers that the Britain that he though he knew is somewhat unrecognisable these days, so the extended roam also acts as an updated summary of the latest societal shifts that stand out to the author.
All of this will be wrapped up in Bryson’s quintessentially American-British humour, fascination with oddballs, eccentricities and the mundane realities of life, a certain sense of self deprecation and a very keen insight on society and the people he meets. Read our full review of The Road To Little Dribbling to to find out whether or not it lives up to Notes From A Small Country.