History Main / BillBryson

31st May '13 3:47:39 PM Geoduck
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-->''I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.''
-->-First line of '''''Lost Continent'''''

Des Moines, Iowa, USA-born journalist-turned-author. Moved to the UK as a young man and has since alternated continents of residence, providing him with a unique cross-cultural perspective that has in turn been translated into hilariously acerbic travelogues. More recently he has returned to his early focus on general socio-historical trivia.

In his spare time he serves as the Chancellor (basically, honorary President) of Durham University and as a campaigner for various causes active in the preservation of historical UK buildings and landscape features.

Books include:

* ''A Dictionary of Troublesome Words'' (1982)
* ''The Palace Under the Alps'' (1985)
* ''The Lost Continent'' (1989)
* ''The Mother Tongue'' (1990)
* ''Neither Here Nor There'' (1991)
* ''Notes From A Small Island'' (1995)
* ''A Walk In The Woods'' (1998)
* ''Notes From a Big Country'' (US: ''[[StrangerInAFamiliarLand I'm A Stranger Here Myself]]'') (1999)
* ''Down Under'' (US: ''In A Sunburned Country'') (2000)
* ''A Short History of Nearly Everything'' (2003)
* ''The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid'' (2006)
* ''[[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespeare]]: The World As a Stage'' (2007)
* ''At Home: A Short History Of Private Life'' (2010)

Named LondonEnglandSyndrome

Tropes Used:

* ArtisticLicenseBiology: A very curious sentence (or very well disguised joke) in ''Down Under'' saying that breakfast is "our most savage event in Western society" and equating breakfast eggs with embryos. An unfertilised egg (i.e. almost all the ones sold for eating) is effectively a chicken's ''period''.
* AuthorExistenceFailure: His old friend and frequent correspondent in Australia died just before he was due to visit her while writing ''Down Under'' so he offers a humorous tale she once told him as a tribute.
* AwfulBritishSexComedy: The first movie he ever saw in England was called ''Suburban Wife Swap.''
* BeamMeUpScotty: In ''Notes From a Big Country'' (which is a collection of UK newspaper columns about life in the States) he falls heavily for a popular misquote of Mariah Carey.
* BerserkButton: Ugly architecture generally and the removal of the UK's red phone boxes particularly.
** Don't forget small movie theaters.
** And the destruction of privet hedges.
** And people not saying 'thanks' after holding door for them.
** The "Rules for Living" chapter in ''Notes From A Big Country'' is a self-parody with the list of new regulations becoming increasingly authoritarian and suited to the author's whims - for example that "all reviews of the author's work must be cleared with the author beforehand".
* {{Bizarchitecture}}: Discovered in 'Down Under'.
* CharacterizationMarchesOn: It is possible to track a distinct evolution in Bryson's attitudes and prejudices reading his books chronologically. He seems to become mellower and less judgmental in later books, perhaps as he becomes increasingly learned. In earlier books there was a hint of misogyny but in his most recent books he seems to have come over to the side of feminism (he uses 'she' as a default pronoun and is very active in documenting the achievements of women is his books about history and science, and is keen to denounce their often unacknowledged importance to their fields).The writer of books like 'A Short History Of NEarly Everything' and 'At Home' feels like a much more informed and liberal man that the writer of 'The Lost Continent'.
** WordOfGod in [[http://augustjordandavis.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/mark-lawson-talks-to-bill-bryson.html a BBC interview]] addresses this with Bryson admitting that much of his more [[DeadpanSnarker snarky]] crude humour in early books came from general inexperience at having to write full length books and maintain the reader's attention.
* ChivalrousPervert: He comes across as such from time to time.
* [[UsefulNotes/{{Cleveland}} Cleveland Rocks]]
* CreatorBreakdown: Bryson believes that if ever Shakespeare's own voice appears in his work it is in ''King John'', written after Shakespeare's son Hamnet died: "Grief fills the room up of my absent child, Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me, Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, Remembers me of all his gracious parts, Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form."
* CricketRules: He has mentioned at one point that, to an American, any cricket fan's description of a match or its rules might as well be completely made-up, for how ludicrous it sounds.
* DeadpanSnarker
* DisproportionateRetribution: Some of the people who were shipped off to Australia.
** Better than being hanged for ''impersonating an Egyptian.''
** [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] at the time. Before the VictorianEra, the likelihood of catching criminals in a big city like London was so incredibly low that the punishments for the few caught had to act as a deterrent.
** And, in another place, [[JustifiedTrope justified]] or [[SubvertedTrope subverted]]: he discusses the cliche of people being dealt serious punishment (deportation, imprisonment etc) for the theft of a handkerchief. As he points out, this is nearly always given as an example of just how disproportionate punishment could be in the 17th and 18th centuries. But in fact, as Bryson goes on, silk would have been incredibly valuable, even rich people able to afford only a small handkerchief. It would probably have been the most valuable thing some middle-class people owned outside of their house.
* DownerEnding: ''The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid'' is mostly a very cheerful, nostalgic autobiography about Des Moines in the 1950s and 1960s but the final chapter is something of a Tearjerker as the fates of people and places are recalled; Bryson Sr. died in 1986, '[[ButtMonkey Milton Milton]]' died in the 1991 Gulf War, Jed Mattes died from cancer. Nearly all of the shops, diners, and other hangouts were closed and bulldozed, the city's elm trees all die off, the amusement park is now an empty lot. The last line is "What a wonderful world it was. We wont see its like again, Im afraid.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: ''The Lost Continent'' was written by an angrier, less mature Bryson and it shows. Readers who begin with later works might be surprised at how acidic (and arguably elitist) Bryson was before he mellowed.
* TheEighties: Writing ''The Lost Continent,'' Bryson is startled to see how much America had changed since TheSixties. Reading it today is reveals how much the country has changed ''since 1987-88.'' It's certainly one of the last works to mention [[{{Disneyfication}} strip clubs in Times Square.]]
* EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench
* EverythingTryingToKillYou: His assessment of the local wildlife Down Under. Considering Australia even has its own header in the trope entry, he's probably right.
** ''A Short History Of (Nearly) Everything'' goes one better, making it clear how fantastically improbable it is you even ''exist'', let alone survived as long as you already have.
** The improbability of your existence is also mentioned in Notes From a Small Island(unless it's a reprint to Short History...this troper hasn't read Short History for about two years... anyway, in Notes From a Small Island, Bryson states: "The way I see it, there are three reasons never to be unhappy. First, you were born. That in itself is a remarkable achievement. Did you know that each time your father ejaculated (and frankly he did it quite a lot) he produced roughly twenty-five million spermatozoa- enough to repopulate Britain every two days or so? For you to have been born, not only did you have to be among the few batches of sperm that had even a theoretical chance of prospering- in itself quite a long shot- but you then had to win a race against 24,999,999 or so other wriggling contenders, all rushing to swim the English Channel of your mother's vagina in order to be the first ashore at the fertile egg of Boulogne, as it were. And think: you could just have easily been a flatworm. Second, you are alive. For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist. For endless eons you were not. That you are able to sit here right now in this once never-to-be-repeated moment, reading this, eating bon-bons, dreaming about hot sex with that scrumptious person from accounts, speculatively sniffing your armpits, doing whatever you are doing- just existing- is really a wonderous belief.Third, you have food, you live in a time of peace, and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" will never be number one again."
* TheFifties
* FridgeLogic: One of his ''Notes From a Big Country'' was partly devoted to examining all the gaping plot holes in ''TheLostWorldJurassicPark''.
* GenerationXerox: ''I'm A Stranger Here Myself'': When his son reads ''The Lost Continent'' and is amazed at how much Bill Bryson Sr. and Jr. seem to be alike. "I have to admit it, I have become my father. I even read license plates."
** As early as ''The Lost Continent'', he comments about his father's lack of direction and being a skinflint on family trips, and then proceeds to get hopelessly lost and complain about prices at various tourist attractions.
* AGoodNameForARockBand: Seemingly brought up, but then averted (perhaps deliberately) in ''At Home'', when Bryson mentions in passing one Jethro Tull, inventor of the seed mill. At least some editions mention, on the very same page, a [[NamesTheSame Bruce Campbell]] who bred cattle.
* GretzkyHasTheBall: Done with deliberate comic exaggeration when trying to describe listening to cricket on Australian radio: "Tandoori took Rogan Josh for a stiffy at Vindaloo in '61"
* IgnoredExpert: On scientists: "First, they deny that it's true. Then, they deny that it's important. Finally, they give credit to the wrong person."
* TheLoad: Katz in the early stages of the trek on Appalachian Trail.
* LongList: Reporting on a waitress' offer of pie in ''Lost Continent'': "We got blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry, huckleberry, whortleberry, cherry berry, hair berry, Chuck Berry, beri-beri and lemon."
* MillardFillmore: So obscure, he's no longer obscure.
* MountainMan: The author's desire to be a bit like one drives the Appalachian Trail trek.
* NostalgiaAintLikeItUsedToBe: The 1950s.
* OlderThanTheyLook: The author, albeit mitigated considerably by a bushy beard in recent years.
* OopNorth: On first moving to the UK and marrying, he spent many years living in a remote village in Yorkshire.
** He visits many parts of the industrial north in ''Notes From a Small Island'' and provides a poignant reflection on the proud heritage and natural beauty of the landscape contrasted with the industrial decline and high unemployment. At one moment he looks out at a valley of former mill towns and wonders what jobs the residents are actually ''doing'' now.
* PornStash: Discovering his father's "modest girlie stash".
** A childhood friend of his had a brother with an incredibly extensive one that was lethally booby trapped.
* PuffOfLogic: From near the beginning of ''A Short History Of Nearly Everything'':
--> "It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you."
* PurpleProse: Quoting Manning Clark's in ''Sunburned Country''.
* RepetitiveName: In ''Neither Here Nor There'', he passes the time in a Swedish hotel room by noting the number of repeated names in a phone book. Turns out there are not a lot of unique surnames, in Sweden.
* ScienceMarchesOn: The march of science itself is the subject of ''A Short History Of Nearly Everything''.
* StaircaseTumble: ''At Home'' investigates the number of people who've died falling down stairs and wonders why more research isn't done on the subject considering the death toll.
* TakeThat: Frequent, and not at all subtle. The opening sentence of ''Lost Continent'': "I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to."
* TarAndFeathers: Writes in ''At Home'' of an unfortunate customs agent who was ''twice'' tarred and feathered during the Boston Tea Party of 1783.
* TechnologyMarchesOn: The Gizmo-crazy hiker in ''Walk In The Woods'' is kitted out with technology that was advanced in 1997 (GPS, self-pitching tent) but is fairly standard fare now.
* UnintentionalPeriodPiece: The aforementioned ''Lost Continent;'' and ''A Walk in the Woods''. ''Notes from a Big Country'' mostly because it deals with a mid-[[TheNineties 90's]] world just before the internet and cellphones became ubiquitous - Bryson mentions the difficulty of finding change for a payphone at the airport, the amount of mail order catalogues he's sent, sending faxes to the UK, and renting movies on videotape.
* ViolentGlaswegian: This seems to be where his experience in Glasgow is headed in ''Notes from a Small Island''. It would probably have unsettled him more if he understood what they were saying.
----

to:

-->''I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.''
-->-First line of '''''Lost Continent'''''

Des Moines, Iowa, USA-born journalist-turned-author. Moved to the UK as a young man and has since alternated continents of residence, providing him with a unique cross-cultural perspective that has in turn been translated into hilariously acerbic travelogues. More recently he has returned to his early focus on general socio-historical trivia.

In his spare time he serves as the Chancellor (basically, honorary President) of Durham University and as a campaigner for various causes active in the preservation of historical UK buildings and landscape features.

Books include:

* ''A Dictionary of Troublesome Words'' (1982)
* ''The Palace Under the Alps'' (1985)
* ''The Lost Continent'' (1989)
* ''The Mother Tongue'' (1990)
* ''Neither Here Nor There'' (1991)
* ''Notes From A Small Island'' (1995)
* ''A Walk In The Woods'' (1998)
* ''Notes From a Big Country'' (US: ''[[StrangerInAFamiliarLand I'm A Stranger Here Myself]]'') (1999)
* ''Down Under'' (US: ''In A Sunburned Country'') (2000)
* ''A Short History of Nearly Everything'' (2003)
* ''The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid'' (2006)
* ''[[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespeare]]: The World As a Stage'' (2007)
* ''At Home: A Short History Of Private Life'' (2010)

Named LondonEnglandSyndrome

Tropes Used:

* ArtisticLicenseBiology: A very curious sentence (or very well disguised joke) in ''Down Under'' saying that breakfast is "our most savage event in Western society" and equating breakfast eggs with embryos. An unfertilised egg (i.e. almost all the ones sold for eating) is effectively a chicken's ''period''.
* AuthorExistenceFailure: His old friend and frequent correspondent in Australia died just before he was due to visit her while writing ''Down Under'' so he offers a humorous tale she once told him as a tribute.
* AwfulBritishSexComedy: The first movie he ever saw in England was called ''Suburban Wife Swap.''
* BeamMeUpScotty: In ''Notes From a Big Country'' (which is a collection of UK newspaper columns about life in the States) he falls heavily for a popular misquote of Mariah Carey.
* BerserkButton: Ugly architecture generally and the removal of the UK's red phone boxes particularly.
** Don't forget small movie theaters.
** And the destruction of privet hedges.
** And people not saying 'thanks' after holding door for them.
** The "Rules for Living" chapter in ''Notes From A Big Country'' is a self-parody with the list of new regulations becoming increasingly authoritarian and suited to the author's whims - for example that "all reviews of the author's work must be cleared with the author beforehand".
* {{Bizarchitecture}}: Discovered in 'Down Under'.
* CharacterizationMarchesOn: It is possible to track a distinct evolution in Bryson's attitudes and prejudices reading his books chronologically. He seems to become mellower and less judgmental in later books, perhaps as he becomes increasingly learned. In earlier books there was a hint of misogyny but in his most recent books he seems to have come over to the side of feminism (he uses 'she' as a default pronoun and is very active in documenting the achievements of women is his books about history and science, and is keen to denounce their often unacknowledged importance to their fields).The writer of books like 'A Short History Of NEarly Everything' and 'At Home' feels like a much more informed and liberal man that the writer of 'The Lost Continent'.
** WordOfGod in [[http://augustjordandavis.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/mark-lawson-talks-to-bill-bryson.html a BBC interview]] addresses this with Bryson admitting that much of his more [[DeadpanSnarker snarky]] crude humour in early books came from general inexperience at having to write full length books and maintain the reader's attention.
* ChivalrousPervert: He comes across as such from time to time.
* [[UsefulNotes/{{Cleveland}} Cleveland Rocks]]
* CreatorBreakdown: Bryson believes that if ever Shakespeare's own voice appears in his work it is in ''King John'', written after Shakespeare's son Hamnet died: "Grief fills the room up of my absent child, Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me, Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, Remembers me of all his gracious parts, Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form."
* CricketRules: He has mentioned at one point that, to an American, any cricket fan's description of a match or its rules might as well be completely made-up, for how ludicrous it sounds.
* DeadpanSnarker
* DisproportionateRetribution: Some of the people who were shipped off to Australia.
** Better than being hanged for ''impersonating an Egyptian.''
** [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] at the time. Before the VictorianEra, the likelihood of catching criminals in a big city like London was so incredibly low that the punishments for the few caught had to act as a deterrent.
** And, in another place, [[JustifiedTrope justified]] or [[SubvertedTrope subverted]]: he discusses the cliche of people being dealt serious punishment (deportation, imprisonment etc) for the theft of a handkerchief. As he points out, this is nearly always given as an example of just how disproportionate punishment could be in the 17th and 18th centuries. But in fact, as Bryson goes on, silk would have been incredibly valuable, even rich people able to afford only a small handkerchief. It would probably have been the most valuable thing some middle-class people owned outside of their house.
* DownerEnding: ''The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid'' is mostly a very cheerful, nostalgic autobiography about Des Moines in the 1950s and 1960s but the final chapter is something of a Tearjerker as the fates of people and places are recalled; Bryson Sr. died in 1986, '[[ButtMonkey Milton Milton]]' died in the 1991 Gulf War, Jed Mattes died from cancer. Nearly all of the shops, diners, and other hangouts were closed and bulldozed, the city's elm trees all die off, the amusement park is now an empty lot. The last line is "What a wonderful world it was. We wont see its like again, Im afraid.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: ''The Lost Continent'' was written by an angrier, less mature Bryson and it shows. Readers who begin with later works might be surprised at how acidic (and arguably elitist) Bryson was before he mellowed.
* TheEighties: Writing ''The Lost Continent,'' Bryson is startled to see how much America had changed since TheSixties. Reading it today is reveals how much the country has changed ''since 1987-88.'' It's certainly one of the last works to mention [[{{Disneyfication}} strip clubs in Times Square.]]
* EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench
* EverythingTryingToKillYou: His assessment of the local wildlife Down Under. Considering Australia even has its own header in the trope entry, he's probably right.
** ''A Short History Of (Nearly) Everything'' goes one better, making it clear how fantastically improbable it is you even ''exist'', let alone survived as long as you already have.
** The improbability of your existence is also mentioned in Notes From a Small Island(unless it's a reprint to Short History...this troper hasn't read Short History for about two years... anyway, in Notes From a Small Island, Bryson states: "The way I see it, there are three reasons never to be unhappy. First, you were born. That in itself is a remarkable achievement. Did you know that each time your father ejaculated (and frankly he did it quite a lot) he produced roughly twenty-five million spermatozoa- enough to repopulate Britain every two days or so? For you to have been born, not only did you have to be among the few batches of sperm that had even a theoretical chance of prospering- in itself quite a long shot- but you then had to win a race against 24,999,999 or so other wriggling contenders, all rushing to swim the English Channel of your mother's vagina in order to be the first ashore at the fertile egg of Boulogne, as it were. And think: you could just have easily been a flatworm. Second, you are alive. For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist. For endless eons you were not. That you are able to sit here right now in this once never-to-be-repeated moment, reading this, eating bon-bons, dreaming about hot sex with that scrumptious person from accounts, speculatively sniffing your armpits, doing whatever you are doing- just existing- is really a wonderous belief.Third, you have food, you live in a time of peace, and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" will never be number one again."
* TheFifties
* FridgeLogic: One of his ''Notes From a Big Country'' was partly devoted to examining all the gaping plot holes in ''TheLostWorldJurassicPark''.
* GenerationXerox: ''I'm A Stranger Here Myself'': When his son reads ''The Lost Continent'' and is amazed at how much Bill Bryson Sr. and Jr. seem to be alike. "I have to admit it, I have become my father. I even read license plates."
** As early as ''The Lost Continent'', he comments about his father's lack of direction and being a skinflint on family trips, and then proceeds to get hopelessly lost and complain about prices at various tourist attractions.
* AGoodNameForARockBand: Seemingly brought up, but then averted (perhaps deliberately) in ''At Home'', when Bryson mentions in passing one Jethro Tull, inventor of the seed mill. At least some editions mention, on the very same page, a [[NamesTheSame Bruce Campbell]] who bred cattle.
* GretzkyHasTheBall: Done with deliberate comic exaggeration when trying to describe listening to cricket on Australian radio: "Tandoori took Rogan Josh for a stiffy at Vindaloo in '61"
* IgnoredExpert: On scientists: "First, they deny that it's true. Then, they deny that it's important. Finally, they give credit to the wrong person."
* TheLoad: Katz in the early stages of the trek on Appalachian Trail.
* LongList: Reporting on a waitress' offer of pie in ''Lost Continent'': "We got blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry, huckleberry, whortleberry, cherry berry, hair berry, Chuck Berry, beri-beri and lemon."
* MillardFillmore: So obscure, he's no longer obscure.
* MountainMan: The author's desire to be a bit like one drives the Appalachian Trail trek.
* NostalgiaAintLikeItUsedToBe: The 1950s.
* OlderThanTheyLook: The author, albeit mitigated considerably by a bushy beard in recent years.
* OopNorth: On first moving to the UK and marrying, he spent many years living in a remote village in Yorkshire.
** He visits many parts of the industrial north in ''Notes From a Small Island'' and provides a poignant reflection on the proud heritage and natural beauty of the landscape contrasted with the industrial decline and high unemployment. At one moment he looks out at a valley of former mill towns and wonders what jobs the residents are actually ''doing'' now.
* PornStash: Discovering his father's "modest girlie stash".
** A childhood friend of his had a brother with an incredibly extensive one that was lethally booby trapped.
* PuffOfLogic: From near the beginning of ''A Short History Of Nearly Everything'':
--> "It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you."
* PurpleProse: Quoting Manning Clark's in ''Sunburned Country''.
* RepetitiveName: In ''Neither Here Nor There'', he passes the time in a Swedish hotel room by noting the number of repeated names in a phone book. Turns out there are not a lot of unique surnames, in Sweden.
* ScienceMarchesOn: The march of science itself is the subject of ''A Short History Of Nearly Everything''.
* StaircaseTumble: ''At Home'' investigates the number of people who've died falling down stairs and wonders why more research isn't done on the subject considering the death toll.
* TakeThat: Frequent, and not at all subtle. The opening sentence of ''Lost Continent'': "I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to."
* TarAndFeathers: Writes in ''At Home'' of an unfortunate customs agent who was ''twice'' tarred and feathered during the Boston Tea Party of 1783.
* TechnologyMarchesOn: The Gizmo-crazy hiker in ''Walk In The Woods'' is kitted out with technology that was advanced in 1997 (GPS, self-pitching tent) but is fairly standard fare now.
* UnintentionalPeriodPiece: The aforementioned ''Lost Continent;'' and ''A Walk in the Woods''. ''Notes from a Big Country'' mostly because it deals with a mid-[[TheNineties 90's]] world just before the internet and cellphones became ubiquitous - Bryson mentions the difficulty of finding change for a payphone at the airport, the amount of mail order catalogues he's sent, sending faxes to the UK, and renting movies on videotape.
* ViolentGlaswegian: This seems to be where his experience in Glasgow is headed in ''Notes from a Small Island''. It would probably have unsettled him more if he understood what they were saying.
----
[[redirect:Creator/BillBryson]]
30th May '13 3:41:33 PM Geoduck
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Added DiffLines:

** As early as ''The Lost Continent'', he comments about his father's lack of direction and being a skinflint on family trips, and then proceeds to get hopelessly lost and complain about prices at various tourist attractions.
2nd May '13 4:21:58 AM dakinebrah
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** A rebuttal from TopGear and James May: "I think that man is a danger, frankly. If there is one thing I can't stand it's beardy, sanctimonious, patronising Americans in tartan trousers coming to England and trying to persuade us to turn into a museum. He wants the East End for the cheeky Cockney chaps pushing wheelbarrows full of eels and he wants Northerners to be industrialists with big braces and blokes dying of consumption - Good morning Bill, I've got the consumption, it's tradition alright. I say Bill, if you're watching - OK, now you won't be watching because we're not talking about steam engines or longboats or bear-baiting - but IF you've happened to tune in by mistake: We're not interested in stupid Americans who come over here with their big video cameras saying Gee, I love your history, it's just so old. SOD OFF!"
21st Apr '13 4:19:45 PM AB
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** WordOfGod in a BBC interview addresses this with Bryson admitting that much of his more [[DeadpanSnarker snarky]] crude humour in early books came from general inexperience at having to write full length books and maintain the reader's attention.

to:

** WordOfGod in [[http://augustjordandavis.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/mark-lawson-talks-to-bill-bryson.html a BBC interview interview]] addresses this with Bryson admitting that much of his more [[DeadpanSnarker snarky]] crude humour in early books came from general inexperience at having to write full length books and maintain the reader's attention.
21st Apr '13 4:12:54 PM AB
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Added DiffLines:

** WordOfGod in a BBC interview addresses this with Bryson admitting that much of his more [[DeadpanSnarker snarky]] crude humour in early books came from general inexperience at having to write full length books and maintain the reader's attention.
1st Apr '13 7:58:38 AM Austin
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Added DiffLines:

* CharacterizationMarchesOn: It is possible to track a distinct evolution in Bryson's attitudes and prejudices reading his books chronologically. He seems to become mellower and less judgmental in later books, perhaps as he becomes increasingly learned. In earlier books there was a hint of misogyny but in his most recent books he seems to have come over to the side of feminism (he uses 'she' as a default pronoun and is very active in documenting the achievements of women is his books about history and science, and is keen to denounce their often unacknowledged importance to their fields).The writer of books like 'A Short History Of NEarly Everything' and 'At Home' feels like a much more informed and liberal man that the writer of 'The Lost Continent'.
19th Mar '13 4:30:27 PM Schlubalybub
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Added DiffLines:

** The improbability of your existence is also mentioned in Notes From a Small Island(unless it's a reprint to Short History...this troper hasn't read Short History for about two years... anyway, in Notes From a Small Island, Bryson states: "The way I see it, there are three reasons never to be unhappy. First, you were born. That in itself is a remarkable achievement. Did you know that each time your father ejaculated (and frankly he did it quite a lot) he produced roughly twenty-five million spermatozoa- enough to repopulate Britain every two days or so? For you to have been born, not only did you have to be among the few batches of sperm that had even a theoretical chance of prospering- in itself quite a long shot- but you then had to win a race against 24,999,999 or so other wriggling contenders, all rushing to swim the English Channel of your mother's vagina in order to be the first ashore at the fertile egg of Boulogne, as it were. And think: you could just have easily been a flatworm. Second, you are alive. For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist. For endless eons you were not. That you are able to sit here right now in this once never-to-be-repeated moment, reading this, eating bon-bons, dreaming about hot sex with that scrumptious person from accounts, speculatively sniffing your armpits, doing whatever you are doing- just existing- is really a wonderous belief.Third, you have food, you live in a time of peace, and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" will never be number one again."
10th Mar '13 11:15:10 AM MrPitt
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** And, in another place, [[JustifiedTrope justified]] justifiedor [[SubvertedTrope subverted]]: he discusses the cliche of people being dealt serious punishment (deportation, imprisonment etc) for the theft of a handkerchief. As he points out, this is nearly always given as an example of just how disproportionate punishment could be in the 17th and 18th centuries. But in fact, as Bryson goes on, silk would have been incredibly valuable, even rich people able to afford only a small handkerchief. It would probably have been the most valuable thing some middle-class people owned outside of their house.

to:

** And, in another place, [[JustifiedTrope justified]] justifiedor or [[SubvertedTrope subverted]]: he discusses the cliche of people being dealt serious punishment (deportation, imprisonment etc) for the theft of a handkerchief. As he points out, this is nearly always given as an example of just how disproportionate punishment could be in the 17th and 18th centuries. But in fact, as Bryson goes on, silk would have been incredibly valuable, even rich people able to afford only a small handkerchief. It would probably have been the most valuable thing some middle-class people owned outside of their house.
4th Mar '13 10:38:19 AM Kyrillion
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Added DiffLines:

** And, in another place, [[JustifiedTrope justified]] justifiedor [[SubvertedTrope subverted]]: he discusses the cliche of people being dealt serious punishment (deportation, imprisonment etc) for the theft of a handkerchief. As he points out, this is nearly always given as an example of just how disproportionate punishment could be in the 17th and 18th centuries. But in fact, as Bryson goes on, silk would have been incredibly valuable, even rich people able to afford only a small handkerchief. It would probably have been the most valuable thing some middle-class people owned outside of their house.
29th Jan '13 2:12:44 PM AB
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* TarAndFeathers: Writes in ''At Home'' of an unfortunate customs agent who was ''twice'' tarred and feathered during the Boston Tea Party' of 1783.

to:

* TarAndFeathers: Writes in ''At Home'' of an unfortunate customs agent who was ''twice'' tarred and feathered during the Boston Tea Party' Party of 1783.
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.BillBryson