2006-12-25 · in Books · 210 words

I feel slightly guilty in that I bought this book as a Christmas present for my dad, and then finished it before he did...

Bill Bryson describes his childhood in 1950s America. It's got some very funny bits in it, but I don't think it's up to the standard of "Neither Here Nor There" or "A Short History of Nearly Everything", and he seems to be using more mannerisms in his writing that quietly irritate me (in particular, periodically flying off into the realms of fantasy halfway through a perfectly normal sentence). There's also some material recycled from "Made In America", which is presumably the result of trying to wring as much humour as possible out of what he admits was a fairly uneventful time in his life. He does succeed in painting a quietly amusing picture of an idyllic fifties childhood, but there's just less material here to work with than in his travel books, and I think it shows.

If you like Bryson's earlier books you'll probably find this worth reading, but if you haven't read his work before I'd suggest starting elsewhere (probably with Kerry Shale's audiobook of "Neither Here Nor There", which is where I began).