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State By State (25): Iowa

Iowa is one of those states that Americans from other parts of the country love to make fun of, mostly on the grounds that it is boring, flat and full of corn fields (the “Fields of Opportunity” from the state line sign, I suppose). As a matter of fact, even Iowans joke about their state, and nobody does it more eloquently than the writer Bill Bryson, author of famous books like “A Short History of Nearly Everything” and “A Walk in the Woods”. When I happened to read the first lines of “The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America”, one of his lesser known titles, in a book store in Vermont, I just had to buy the book on the spot. Since then Tish and I often entertained ourselves in the car by reading to each other from the book. Sometimes I had to laugh so hard, I could hardly keep on driving.

Bryson starts out his book with a ten page ramble on how boring his home state is. There’s plenty of clever lines like this one: “To reach anywhere of even passing interest from Des Moines (The capital of Iowa and Bryson’s home town. AS) by car requires a journey that in other countries would be considered epic.” We sure enjoyed the funny read, but I must say that personally I liked driving through Iowa a lot. For one thing, it’s not nearly as flat as Bryson and everybody else always says. Plus I find corn fields much more pleasant to watch than strip malls (Einkaufsmeilen) and gas stations, which is all you get to see from the road in large parts of, say, New Jersey. Having had to spend large parts of their life driving through corn fields obviously causes people like Bill Bryson to have a different opinion …

(Written in Hamburg, Germany, August 6, 2012)


2 responses »

  1. Yes! Thank you for noticing our hills! Actually I think Mr. Bryson felt bad about that book because he wrote “The Life and Time of the Thunderbolt Kid” a few years ago which was a pretty sunny description of growing up in Iowa. (Maybe not as funny though, FYI) 🙂

  2. Pingback: Alone Among Iowans « andreasontheroad

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