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Richard

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The Lost Continent cover art

Cynical and occasionally unpleasant

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-03-18

I’m usually a fan of Bill Bryson, and I had thoroughly enjoyed ‘A Walk in the Woods’ (also read by William Roberts), so my hopes were high for ‘The Lost Continent’. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this very much for three main reasons: firstly, what is it about? With a title like ‘The Lost Continent’ I was expecting a more interesting exploration about what it means to be ‘American’. Not so: instead, this is a long road trip through small towns and large cities with no clear objective and therefore rather episodic and less compelling than ‘A Walk in the Woods’. Second, the book is dated in a bad way: references to Mexicans and ‘homos’ make you wince. But the third and biggest reason I struggled to enjoy this was because of the exhausting, unrelenting cynicism: while undertaking the kind of road trip most of us can only dream about, Mr Bryson does almost nothing but complain - at length - about the places he visits. While this is sometimes amusing, after a while it becomes monotonous. It even gets rather snobbish at times, with sweeping personal comments about people who live in ‘the South’ or in a particular place. He hates 95% of the food, the people and the places he visits, and so the ending - in which he gets sentimental about the trip coming to an end - rings false. If you like the idea of an 80s Karl Pilkington driving around America moaning about stuff, you may enjoy this much more than I did.

Stanley Tucci cover art

The interviewer tries hard, but...

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-12-17

I love ST but he seems reluctant to say much here. The interviewer works hard and asks some good questions, but he doesn’t get a massive amount back. ST does warm up a bit but by then the time is nearly up. It just suddenly ends without the usual ‘Thanks for talking to us’, so I wonder what happened there...!

Dancing Bear cover art

Nearly ruined by invasive music

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-11-17

Ian McKellen’s voice is just perfect for this story - in fact, it’s perfect for any story as far as I’m concerned! The story is sweet and moving, but unfortunately the whole experience is very nearly ruined by the awful, unnecessary and invasive music. It comes up multiple times and adds absolutely nothing; if anything, it took me out of the story and had me gritting my teeth with frustration. If you’ve got Ian McKellen to do your reading, why stick this din over the top? It’s not like he needs any help... such a shame, as this could so easily have been perfect.

How to Be Like Walt cover art

Good as a biography but too much Bible bashing!

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 25-03-17

Excellent as a biography, but towards the end it feels like you're in Sunday school. Waaaay too much religion, which really spoilt it for me.