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February 04, 2016

The Road to Little Dribbling

Little DribblingThe Road to Little Dribbling

By: Bill Bryson

If I ever get to assemble my dream team of traveling companions, Bill Bryson will be on the shortlist. His penchant for a good bit of trivia, his snark in the face of the absurdities of everyday life, and his Sisyphean quest for a reasonably-priced parking space, cup of tea, or pint of beer (depending on the time of day) would make any trip more entertaining.

Bryson, who wrote A Walk in the Woods and several other travel/memoir bestsellers, is a native Iowa.  He’s lived in England for most of the last 40 years, and has written a great deal about the uniqueness of Britain. In The Road to Little Dribbling, he wanders around his adopted country roughly following what he terms the Bryson line, the two farthest points on the island that follow a straight line – Bognor Regis in the southeast to Cape Wrath in the northwest – but because this is a Bryson book, it’s not an ordinary travelogue.

Rather than visiting the tourist hotspots, Bryson seeks out the lesser-known museums, towns, and commemorative plaques, as well as places he lived as a young husband and father. He’s opinionated, curmudgeonly, and has a knack for getting himself into awkward situations, but he’s also eloquent, self-deprecating, hilarious, and reverent. There’s a special fondness for unremembered people who did remarkable things, and his anecdotes encourage further investigation. Bryson is passionate about preserving the British countryside with its open fields, gentle hills, and many walking paths as well. As he writes in the book, “it is a permanent astonishment to me how casually strewn with glory Britain is.”

Review By: Julia Welzen