Sometimes you can really resent a literary hero

brysonI am in the process of reading Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling. I am loving the book and that is just making me resent him even more than I already do. I love him and I hate him. I love him because he is a brilliantly witty and intelligent writer who has countless followers. I hate him for pretty much the same reasons. Or otherwise, that I am not him.

I spent a long time lamenting the too-soon demise of Douglas Adams, but Bryson fills the gap admirably, even though his themes are different.

But, I resent him mainly because he is so damn good and is the writer I often and vaingloriously envisioned myself wanting to be – that is ‘successful’. The tale is a revisit of his earlier work Notes from a Small Island. That one concerned his lengthy trek around England. This one is a similar theme but many years later.

At the same time I must say if you haven’t read any Bryson you are missing a great deal in your life. His topics and themes run into the plethora realm. He has written tomes about Britain, Europe, hiking the Appalachian Trail, the English language and its perversities and more and more and more. Where does he find the goddamn energy. Yet another reason why is he is likely more successful than am I.

His writing is smooth, intelligent and highly entertaining not to mention panties wetting funny at many instances. Bastard,

He is now a British subject and such a committed anglophile that he devotes much of this ‘other’ energy to cleaning up the rubbish on English roadsides and verges. An odd departure for a chap who grew up in the US Midwest and still loves his country of origin, but in other regards he is more Brit than the average Brit.

And so this is my love/hate message about Bill. Oh, and did I add, he is also a nice guy? He even sent me a personal email once. It is a prized possession and I shall share it with you.


—–Original Message—–

From: Bryson, Bill []

Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2006 2:53 AM

To: Ian Lidster

Subject: RE: Your litter war

Dear Ian,

Many, many thanks for your message, and apologies for the long delay in


I’m delighted to tell you that I have had an overwhelmingly positive

response to my anti-litter plea: over 800 messages so far and more coming in

all the time (which is why it is taking me a while to get to them all —

sorry!). I had a meeting the week before last with the chief executive and

chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England and they have agreed to

launch a special crusade against countryside litter in the spring, and I

will be seeing people from other organisations in the new year, so I am

hopeful of making some good progress in the coming months towards tackling

the problem all over (and getting some sort of national initiatives under

way). I’ll keep you posted, if I may.

Forgive my haste now — I have a lot of messages to answer! — but thanks

again and all very best wishes for 2007. Also, thank you for your kind

words about the books. I hope that you enjoy the rest of Mother Tongue.

Yours most sincerely,

Bill Bryson



2 responses to “Sometimes you can really resent a literary hero

  1. I discovered him with The Mother Tongue and have been an avid fan ever since. It’s the next book (again) on my reading list… Unless i go for Little Dribbling, there’s a thought.

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