Bill Bryson is a very funny man, but he did not get that way without practice.  This early work (copyright 1995) is hardly as entertaining as some of his later books, but it is still well worth your time and shows the origins of the author's razor-sharp wit.  Bryson describes his adopted country during a farewell tour just prior to moving his family to the United States and leaves no opportunity unmet to describe Britain’s charm and its drawbacks.  I found it interesting to read this book after his more recent The Road to Little Dribbling because he visits some of the same territory.  His take on these very British locales has certainly sharpened with age, but the seeds of his humor are plainly to be seen in Notes.  Sometimes it takes a foreigner to hold up a mirror to a society, and in this case I can’t imagine anyone more suited for the task than Bryson.

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