ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Granta Books, 2/3 Hanover Yard, Noel Rd., London N1 8BE, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, critic, and broadcaster. Independent on Sunday, London, England, "Lost World" columnist; Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, teacher.
Lost Worlds: What Have We Lost & Where Did It Go?, Granta Books (London, England), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Michael Bywater is an accomplished newspaper columnist whose book Lost Worlds: What Have We Lost & Where Did It Go? borrows its title from the name of his column "Lost World," which is published weekly in the London Independent on Sunday. Lost Worlds examines what has faded out of society and why. Arranged like a glossary, readers can flip to any page to read Bywater lament a trend, product, or idea of the past. Geographical reviewer Mick Herron advised readers not to read the book straight through. He observed that Bywater's "unremitting archness is a bit wearing."
In terms of language, the book was originally written for a British audience, and a contributor to Kirkus Reviews pointed out that British readers "may under-stand more readily than readers here [in America] many of the entries." Many of the products Bywater mourns are so old that some of his readers might have a hard time remembering them, let alone missing them. An example is Brylcreem, the men's hair product that led the way for hair gel."
As in his columns, Bywater's keen eye for the absurd in society is evident in the book. The Kirkus Reviews contributor described Lost Worlds as "usually funny, rarely fatuous—all in a layer of irony thick enough to insulate an iceberg." Reviewing Lost Worlds, Mick Herron admitted: "There's plenty here to amuse those who enjoy a literate, educated complaint."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Europe Intelligence Wire, October 20, 2002, Michael Bywater, "The Lost World of Michael Bywater: Pedalling Backwards on the Cycle of Violence"; October 27, 2002, Michael Bywater, "The Lost World of Michael Bywater: Straight Talking in England's Dreamtime."
Geographical, January, 2005, Mick Herron, review of Lost Worlds: What Have We Lost & Where Did It Go?, p. 83.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of Lost Worlds, p. 521.
Reference & Research Book News, August, 2005, review of Lost Worlds, p. 26.
Bee Documents Online, http://www.beedocuments.com/ (June 25, 2005), Adam Behringer, interview with Michael Bywater.