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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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6,5232351,441 (3.88)212
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 funniest writers alive, he is perfectly positioned to mine his all-American childhood for 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 wearing a jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel about his neck, vanquishing evildoers--in his head--as "The Thunderbolt Kid." 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)
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» See also 212 mentions

English (232)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  Vietnamese (1)  All languages (235)
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
Like all Bryson books, both hilarious and surprisingly informative. My one complaint is that towards the end he begins to cave in to a less interesting and insightful nostalgia. Still, tons of fun and wholeheartedly recommend to all who like to giggle uncontrollably! ( )
  caedocyon | Feb 23, 2024 |
I really enjoyed this book. Gave me a really good feel for what it was like to grow up in the 1950's. There are some moments in this book that made me cry I was laughing so hard. His description of trying to use the restroom in a snow suit was worth the price of the book. ( )
  cdaley | Nov 2, 2023 |
It is hard to be entertaining when writing about happiness. If Bill Bryson had a terrible childhood, it would be much easier to write a good book about it. However, Bill Bryson manages to be funny and interesting about not much. His secret is, I think, his excellent sense of humour and the background information he gives about the state of the world at that time. Throurhoutly enjoyed it. I recommend it to everybody who wants to read something light, but intelligent. ( )
  Twisk | Oct 2, 2023 |
I read this as part of a library book group, finished it, talked about it, but couldn't understand why it was so popular. Now, I can't recall any of its details. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 4, 2023 |
This was better than I expected after the one other Bill Bryson book I've read (The Lost Continent, which was the funniest thing I'd ever read until about halfway through, when the sarcasm got to be too much to stomach).

This book was an amusing look at the 50s, an amusing look at childhood, an amusing look at families, and was a pretty easy read. Not much lost, not much gained. ( )
  JayBostwick | Jul 11, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 232 (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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Wikipedia in English (2)

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 funniest writers alive, he is perfectly positioned to mine his all-American childhood for 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 wearing a jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel about his neck, vanquishing evildoers--in his head--as "The Thunderbolt Kid." 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.

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