The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Goofy, Silly, Innocent, Fun. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is delightful.

For those of you (like I) who've never read Bill Bryson before- you are in for a treat. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid tells of Bill's childhood in Des Moines, IA. His descriptions are so incredible and detailed, you can picture each place and scene as a distant memory.

Bill actually made me yearn for the simpler, gentler times of the 1950's. Of course this was quite a feat considering I wasn't even born yet...come to think of it- neither were my parents. Well, they were in the late fifties- the very late fifties. But their stories tend to include the acid of the seventies, not the innocence of post-war America.

In some ways Bill Bryson's memoirs are the ultimate antithesis to an Augustan Burroughs or David Sedaris. He serves to remind us not childhood is traumatic. That childhood can be a wonderful place even if your mom shoos you out the door at 7:00 in the morning and won’t let you back in till dark. That seven hours of television a day really won’t rot your brain and that it really does take a village to raise a child.

A friend recently lamented- traveling has become much less fun since the advent of the chain. From city to city, small town to small town, Wal-Marts, Starbucks, and McDonalds crowd out small Mom and Pop's sucking the individuality and charm of each place. Why go anywhere? I was reminded of this conversation as Bill described restaurants long gone and department stores that filled city blocks. I found myself saying Yeah that’s what we need-a return to individuality. A time when East Town had the very best Pie but West Town had the very best Brownies.

Bill Bryson reminds me in some ways of my dad, a bearded, happy, older man passing down tid-bits of goodness. I can hear my Dad’s voice in my head parallel to Bill’s- In my day doctor’s told us smoking was perfectly healthy and would increase lung function. Okay Dad- you still can't smoke. Makes me wonder if sometime in the future we will look back on the news where they'd advise drinking a glass of wine or a cup of coffee everyday and shake our heads?

I’m quite sure I confused other drivers who wondered exactly what in the world I was laughing at. This audio book told by Bill Bryson himself is a treat. Be warned however- if like I you’ve never read his stories, you’ll feel an urge to run out and pick them all up.




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