I won't be the first person to tell you that Bryson is smart, funny, and has absorbed British sarcasm by osmosis so seamlessly that it almost trumps us when narrated in the velvety American accent of the actor on this audiobook. Small town America is pulled apart, examined forensically by each of its cast of stock characters and institutions, and then put back together with a new-found affection by both you and the author. This book is like dismantling an old Chevy, finding that it still works, restoring it and then driving it around proudly. You'll feel both the European distaste for anything nouveau that Bryson has adopted, and the universal pull towards Americana. Brilliant.
I tried reading the book - gave up after ten pages for twee-ness. Tried watching the film - turned it off for being sickly-sweet. Listening to the audiobook narrated by the author, though, is somehow a completely different experience. I'm sure the majority of people who read/watch/listen to this experience what I did, being able to relate so strongly to the amazingly well-written heartbreak and loneliness, that you somehow think you have a new best friend who's lived it with you (except all over the world). Completely changed my opinion of this book, I now adore it and can't endorse it more as an audiobook, I turned back to the beginning and listened to it all again as soon as it finished, I couldn't bare for it to be over. Very rare and special quality in storytelling.