Click here to read reviewer Matt J. Simmons' take on The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.
The lucky ones know about Bill Bryson books. Read about the better days in the thoroughly enjoyableThe Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. As Bill Bryson recounts his life growing up in the
'50s and '60s in Des Moines, Iowa, he makes his embarrassing moments funny and his painful moments even funnier, all the while making you think these were the best days.
Born in a farm state, Bill Bryson stayed out of the corn because he was scared of it. It’s just entertaining when he shares his life with us like this.
He looks back on these, the finest days of his life in regards to his parents, his friends, himself, his community, and the country itself.
Even his complaining is funny. His dad used to make snacks - wearing nothing much below his waist. He’d further embarrass Bill on airplanes doing isometric exercises in plain view of everyone. However,
Bryson knew his dad was the greatest baseball writer around, and his dad often brought him along to baseball games, which he describes in this book. His mom was a home furnishing editor at the same newspaper where his dad worked. She often had to throw meals on because she was such a active woman. Bryson writes, “As a rule you knew it was the time to eat when you heard potatoes exploding in the oven.”
Farm time at his grandparents was “a whole body workout for your immune system.” On the farm, he liked to follow his grandpa around and help him fix the machinery,
and he especially liked going into town with his grandpa and getting Nehi pop to drink as a treat. On the farm, there was a fun barn to explore and the best chair to watch television from. Other family stories involve the cold porch, the uncle no one wanted to eat near, and stories involving his mom’s side of the family- she grew up near a stockyard.
Thank god Bill Bryson is a writer. He was born to tell his stories, and these are mighty funny stories. You will pique the curiosity of those around you
with the laughter reading this book causes. One of Bryson’s friends learned how to get free food from a restaurant, and from the local movie theatre vending machine. Years later,
Bryson and his friends took over the A-V club at school. He’s come a long way from standing in the flowerbeds watching the neighbor’s color television. He lived through a dentist who didn’t believe in Novocaine and his rough newspaper-carrier job. He also recalls living in a country where times were simpler (“I knew what it felt like to sit in a bush”), gratifying, and prosperous:
the country was excited about cars; Disneyland was just opening; television and TV dinners were introduced, and “I Love Lucy” debuted. In his hometown, the automatic toilet was a big thing to show off to visitors. He knew were to go for the best junk food and the place to go to read comics.
There are too many funny moments to write about, but his sleepover at Milton’s and, later, the Lake Ahquabi trip, are hilarious. Grandmas’s troubles with the black licorice and Bryson’s
own Lincoln Log story are funny as well. Laughter will erupt for days after when you think about some of these
Bill Bryson tells his life with laughter. He has written several other books, many depicting his travels. These are must-reads too. I am indebted to Bill Bryson - I had so much fun reading this book!