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A CLASSIC FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ONE SUMMER After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly 3 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliens—as he later put it, "it was clear my people needed me"). They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty-four-hour dental-floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item. Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I'm a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth. The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man's attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but it is also an extended if at times bemused love letter to the homeland he has returned to after twenty years away. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Part history, part memoir, I Am a Stranger Here Myself taps dimensions of human yearning: the need to belong, the snarl of family history, and embracing womanhood in the patriarchal American West. Gwartney becomes fascinated with the missionary Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, the first Caucasian woman to cross the Rocky Mountains and one of fourteen people killed at the Whitman Mission in 1847 by Cayuse Indians. Whitman's role as a white woman drawn in to "settle" the West reflects the tough-as-nails women in Gwartney's own family. Arranged in four sections as a series of interlocking explorations and ruminations, Gwartney uses Whitman as a touchstone to spin a tightly woven narrative about identity, the power of womanhood, and coming to peace with one's most cherished place.
In 1990, spurred on by the success of his writing and his marriage to the writer Aileen Armitage, Deric Longden made a momentous move to a foreign country. Huddersfield, in Yorkshire, with its distinctive manners and customs and its wealth of remarkable characters, would surely provide him with all the material he needed for his planned book, one of the great classics of travel literature. But two years later, when he sat down to write, the major events of everyday life kept intruding: the demands of a houseful of cats, the problem of getting the cooker repaired, the memories evoked by sorting through old clothes in the wardrobe . . . Still, I'm a Stranger Here Myself is a travel book of a kind, where the most hilarious adventures can happen between the kitchen and the bathroom, and where a morning's shopping can provide enough anecdotes to last a lifetime. Once again Deric Longden demonstrates his genius for taking the most ordinary materials of life and transforming them with his own special brand of gentle, inspired humour.

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