The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
A Memoir

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Synopsis

From one of the world's most beloved writers and New York Times bestselling author of One Summer, 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.

 

About Bill Bryson

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BILL BRYSON's best-selling books include A Walk in the Woods, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, In a Sunburned Country, A Short History of Nearly Everything (which earned him the 2004 Aventis Prize), The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, and At Home. He lives in England with his wife and children.































Author Residence: Norfolk, England































Author Hometown: Des Moines, IA
 
Published October 17, 2006 by Broadway Books. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Humor & Entertainment, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

The New York Times

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His baby-boomer contemporaries will no doubt recognize in “Thunderbolt Kid” the penny-pinching tendencies of parents raised during the Depression, the eroticism of Maidenform bra ads, the mayhem that was the Saturday matinee at a large downtown movie palace, little pleasures like taking the cork ...

Oct 15 2006 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

The Guardian

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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: Travels Through my Childhood by Bill Bryson (Black Swan, £7.99) There is a postcard insert in the middle of this paperback, which has a survey you can fill in, tear out and post.

Jun 02 2007 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

The Guardian

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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson Doubleday £18.99, pp320 You'd have to have a heart of stone to not like Bill Bryson.

Sep 24 2006 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

The Guardian

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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson 320pp, Doubleday, £18.99 There is simply no avoiding Bill Bryson.

Oct 07 2006 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

Publishers Weekly

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Though billed as memoir, Bryson's follow-up to A Short History of Nearly Everything can only be considered one in the broadest sense.

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Book Reporter

Bryson has conducted considerable historic mining of the last most peaceful time in America, a time of enormous irony.

Sep 25 2007 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

Entertainment Weekly

Compared with his thick yet breezy Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, his account of childhood in 1950s Iowa, might be called A Short History of Not All That Much.

Oct 20 2006 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

The Bookbag

When Bill Bryson was a boy, he used to watch tornados ripping across the horizon from the safety of his grandfather's farm.

Dec 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

USA Today

Bryson's witty memoir is a celebration of sorts of growing up a half century ago in Des Moines.

Oct 26 2006 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

The Sydney Morning Herald

Bill Bryson took me back there, not because he maintained his own freelance smut business, but because the beautifully realised elegiac tone of his childhood memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, invites readers to go tumbling down the rabbit hole of memory into the best days of thei...

Sep 18 2006 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

Bookmarks Magazine

Jay Jennings Providence Journal 4 of 5 Stars "Bryson on traveling around the world ranges from entertaining to hilarious, and Bryson on Bryson proves to be just as good.

Aug 21 2007 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

Persephone Magazine

At one point, Bryson tells us that he would enter the building of The Des Moines Register, find the floor where his mother worked, and round the corner to find her typing away at her typewriter.

Aug 17 2012 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

Grasping For The Wind

Bryson spends the majority of his time on the fifties and his life as a nine year old boy much affected by the comic books he read.

Jan 16 2007 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of the Thu...

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