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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A…
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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir (2006)

by Bill Bryson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 173 (next | show all)
I listened to this on audio, and I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I have most of Bryson's other books. I think this is partly because I didn't care much for the way Bryson read his own work. He seemed often to put the emphasis on the wrong part of a sentence, thereby sort of deflating some of his humor. It almost felt like he didn't get his own jokes sometimes. (Bryson also sounds nothing at all like I imagined, and while that certainly isn't a criticism, it was distracting.) But the bigger issue was that I got annoyed at the very kinds of hyperbole and exaggeration that usually help make Bryson's stuff so good. Something about the straight-up memoir format, I think, made me wish he had stuck a little bit more to the way things were rather than skewing them for comic effect. I don't know why this should be irritating in this book and not in, say, [A Walk in the Woods], which is also at least partly memoir--maybe it was because Thunderbolt Kid tried to capture a time period (and one with which I have no direct experience) and it was hard to tell which things really were exaggerations. Or it may have been another effect of listening to the book rather than reading it. Perhaps if I could have controlled my own pace, I would have been less annoyed. Still, a lot of good stuff in there, and I did laugh out loud a number of times. I would just recommend reading this one instead of listening to it. ( )
  lycomayflower | Oct 21, 2014 |
Just OK. I grew up in the 50's. I love reading memoirs of others' childhoods, especially for around that era. (I am now thoroughly enjoying Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Wait Till Next Year.") I found none of this book as side-splittingly funny as alot of people found. Maybe because I remember my childhood quite well, and I am regularly nostalgic. I've already had alot of enjoyment remembering the dumb, funny, sweet, infuriating things we did. This book just struck me as "yeah, and....?" Maybe it's because Bill Bryson's books sometimes just rub me the wrong way. I loved "A Walk in the Woods," but in many of his other books, I find him just a bit too self-impressed and a bit too insistent in how we should respond. In addition, it may be that alot of people have never really thought much about their childhoods in this manner. In any event, it's great that people find this a fun read, it's just that I didn't. ( )
  afinch11 | Sep 3, 2014 |
I laughed so hard, so many times, that I actually pulled a muscle! Great book! ( )
  1Randal | Aug 25, 2014 |
I laughed so hard, so many times, that I actually pulled a muscle! Great book! ( )
  1Randal | Aug 25, 2014 |
I laughed so hard, so many times, that I actually pulled a muscle! Great book! ( )
  1Randal | Aug 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 173 (next | show all)
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson is a memoir of growing up in Iowa, during the 1950's. The memoir was classic fun and an exploration into memories of growing up in the middle of America in the middle of the twentieth century. The book begins with a panoramic point of view on what the 1950's were about, and then Bryson gets closer and closer into his personal life. He masterfully pens his memories of pranks, jobs, candy, sex, politics, main-street, with a well crafted efficacy. So many memories of growing up in Longmont Colorado in the 1970's bubbled up. A fun listen.
 
Bill Bryson is erudite, irreverent, funny and exuberant, making the temptation to quote endlessly from The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir (Broadway, $25) hard to resist. Bryson interweaves childhood reminiscences seamlessly with observations about 1950s America, evoking a zeitgeist that will be familiar to almost everyone past middle age.
 
Had he written a purely personal view of his youth and left out the bits explaining how 1950s America was the best country in the world, my chuckles might not so often have given way to groans of annoyance.
added by MikeBriggs | editThe Spectator, Zenga Longmore (Sep 30, 2006)
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bryson, Billprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Diderich, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sibony, JulieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
In memory of Jed Mattes
First words
In the late 1950s, the Royal Canadian Air Force produced a booklet on isometrics, a form of exercise that enjoyed a short but devoted vogue with my father.
Quotations
You really should never fuck with the Thunderbolt Kid....He had, as he would boast in later years, a pornographic memory.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Abridged versions should not be combined with the full work.   "Parts of this book first appeared in somewhat different form in The New Yorker." T.p. verso
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0767919378, Paperback)

From one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the English language, a vivid, nostalgic, and utterly hilarious memoir of growing up in the 1950s

Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century—1951—in the middle of the United States—Des Moines, Iowa—in the middle of the largest generation in American history—the baby boomers. As one of the best and funniest writers alive, he is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around his house and neighborhood with an old football jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel about his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing awful evildoers (and morons)—in his head—as "The Thunderbolt Kid."

Using this persona as a springboard, Bill Bryson re-creates the life of his family and his native city in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality—a life at once completely familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy. It was, he reminds us, a happy time, when automobiles and televisions and appliances (not to mention nuclear weapons) grew larger and more numerous with each passing year, and DDT, cigarettes, and the fallout from atmospheric testing were considered harmless or even good for you. He brings us into the life of his loving but eccentric family, including affectionate portraits of his father, a gifted sportswriter for the local paper and dedicated practitioner of isometric exercises, and OF his mother, whose job as the home furnishing editor for the same paper left her little time for practicing the domestic arts at home. The many readers of Bill Bryson’s earlier classic, A Walk in the Woods, will greet the reappearance in these pages of the immortal Stephen Katz, seen hijacking literally boxcar loads of beer. He is joined in the Bryson gallery of immortal characters by the demonically clever Willoughby brothers, who apply their scientific skills and can-do attitude to gleefully destructive ends.

Warm and laugh-out-loud funny, and full of his inimitable, pitch-perfect observations, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is as wondrous a book as Bill Bryson has ever written. It will enchant anyone who has ever been young.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:39 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. Using his fantasy-life persona as a springboard, Bryson re-creates the life of his family in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality--a life at once familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 16 descriptions

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