66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epically funny and thoroughly enjoyable
I have read every Bill Bryson book ever penned. I have enjoyed every last one of them without exception, even the rubbish ones. I'm pleased to report however that his latest book is far from that. I enjoyed 'A Short History' but it was never anything I could quite read cover to cover continuously. Thunderbolt Kid is a return to the Bill we've come to know and love...
Published on 28 Aug 2006 by Michael O'Neill
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia and reminiscence
Not Bryson at his best - too much like Garrison Keillor on a bad day. Schmaltzy, nostalgic, and a bit dull. The golden glow of his childhood is punctuated by a few 'political' bits to show that the 1950s weren't all wonderful - nuclear drills, lynchings and so on -- but it seems to me like his heart isn't in that, and he really does think that these were just better times.
Published on 3 Feb 2010 by Jezza
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66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epically funny and thoroughly enjoyable,
I have read every Bill Bryson book ever penned. I have enjoyed every last one of them without exception, even the rubbish ones. I'm pleased to report however that his latest book is far from that. I enjoyed 'A Short History' but it was never anything I could quite read cover to cover continuously. Thunderbolt Kid is a return to the Bill we've come to know and love. Although I'm only eighteen and British myself and one would think that I would have no common frame of reference with which to appreciate an exploration of life in 1950s America, the fantastic thing about this book is that you don't need to have been born in the fifties or even in the states to enjoy it. I think the blurb puts it very eloquently when it says that all you need to have been is young once. That said, where it does get technical, Bill goes to some lengths to explain it in a way that allows those of us not of colonial extraction to continue to snort with laughter. Be warned, this is not a book to be read in public or while eating or drinking. As with each of Bill's books, it really is laugh-out-loud funny. Well done Bill, you've not lost it and you remain one of my favourite authors, even if you do insist on insulting my home town.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Bryson just gets better and better,
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This is a superb book, full of warmth, wit and wonderful anecdotes from the author's life. As well as being excellent social commentary on middle class America Bill Bryson also includes a plethora of insights and statistics about his home country that are eye popping and give you pause. I could not commend this book to you highly enough - a brilliant amusing and thoroughly engaging read.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bryson on top form,
There is an inexplicable `something' about Bill Bryson books that make them feel like familiar old friends as soon as you start reading them, and `The Life & Times Thunderbolt Kid' continues this. In essence, the book chronicles Bryson's early years and the changing face of America during the 1950's. I was aware that a `memoir' style effort from Bryson could be a victim of simply retracing old ground, since his earlier travel books packed in so much of his life story, but it feels as fresh and new as ever.
Although the stories contained in the book are interesting in their own right, it seems that a certain emphasis has been placed on the comedy aspects, although this never feels like it is forced. Tales of the `toity jar', a Grandmother's public confusion over liquorice baby sweets and Bryson's one-of-a-kind father had me absolutely howling with laughter.
`The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid' is an appealing slice of Americana, and a timely reminder that the USA was once a pretty fascinating and charming place. Highly recommended.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRYSON'S ON FIRE,
This review is from: The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid (Paperback)
Bill Bryson is without question the funniest travel writer on this planet. His books about criss crossing the world and experiencing different cultures are hilarious, inspiring and even occasionally, touching. And droll. Very droll. Bryson is also perhaps our drollest author.
In this new book, however, he deals with his upbringing in the Central U.S. in Iowa. Bryson proves himself to be a renaissance man, writing about growing up and his strained relationship with his father. Everybody who's experienced this, which is many, can relate.
Bryson is at his FUNNIEST, WRYEST, and MOST TOUCHING in this book. It'll make you laugh and maybe even cry. If you're the sensitive sort.
This is one of three books in the past few months that made me laugh out loud. Repeatedly. The others are "Dave Barry's Money Secrets" a send up of investment books and Martha Bolton's "Maybe Life's Just Not That Into You" an EXTRAORDINARILY FUNNY spoof of self help books.
I hope Bryson writes more books centering on his youth. Although I cannot relate in the least to growing up in this place called Iowa (I always thought it was "Ioway") he's a marvelous writer and made me feel like I was born in Ioway. Er, Iowa.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant from start to finish,
I have read all of Bryson's books and found this one as funny and interesting as all those that came before. In this book he has managed to capture in words those things that all of us felt at sometime during our childhood. Add into the mix a small dose of American history and you have a book that is both funny, insightful, and somewhat educational. I recommed this to all--it is vintage Bryson. Also, his old friend Katz makes an appearance. What can be better than that?!
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FIVE STAR SALUTE TO THE MASTER,
Bill Bryson, the man who, had he been alive at the time, would have teased an open-throated guffaw out of Mona Lisa, is back on the Hopeless Laughter Trail with this memoir of growing up in Iowa in the '50s and'60s. Indeed, it may be his funniest book yet, but, as always with Bryson, it's more than just a chuckle fest: it's a warm, wise, poignant evocation of a nation long since vanished up its own fundament. The past is a foreign country; they did things differently there, and on a more humane scale.
A book to be treasured, to be read and then re-read, by a writer without equal.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something of a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing,
Reading other customer reviews I think its possible that Bill Bryson is misinterpreted by some of our reviewers. Yes, some of his book is written by his research, yes some of his stories are exaggerated and some is fantasy. But tell me, which books of his aren't?
Bill Bryson is the master of the jovial, chuckling and mischeiveous sideways glance.
For me this was a great book on a couple of levels.
First, the warmth. America in the 50's is a really god backdrop. The theatres, the baseball, the apple pie, the early days of television and hilarious stories of missed female flesh in the treehouse.
Secondly though, its the really powerful and delicately done stories of America's dark side; the Anti-Communist obsession, racism, failings on the space race, nuclear testing, the exploitation of countries by Corporate America. He never laboured the points or tackled them in an obvious way.
This book could easily be bedtime reading for the Anti-American, Anti-Globalisation and Anti-Everything briggade.
Overall its a sad book. Fond recollections of an era gone by.
I feel the same myself.
Until he writes another book.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bryson at his best,
I'm one of those lucky people that read something really funny on a train, or any public place, and supress my emption. I'm also one of those lucky people (of which there must be millions) that rush to buy Bill Bryson's new book on release day. This book is one of the few books that have ever made me laugh, and I really mean laugh, out loud. It's written with humour and warmth and portrays a world that has long disappeared, which is clearly a sad thing. A fantastic book - shame it wasn't twice as long I enjoyed it so much!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read,
So what if it's fluffy, or whimsy, it's a great read. I couldn't put it down. If you like Bryson, you'll love this. If you grew up in the fifties, you'll love it even more. I remembered things that I'd long forgotten. It's like the unobstructed view from a motorbike on a slow journey through your youth. Great stuff, fluently written, easy to read and to enjoy.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both hilarious and informative,
In his early travel book Neither Here Nor There, Bill Bryson describes a scene in which he was sitting in the enclosed carriage of an Austrian train, reminiscing about stories from his days as a journalist. The sudden uncontrollable laughter that caused his fellow passengers to look at him "as if I had just been sick down my shirt" should serve as a warning. Do not, under any circumstances, read this book while sitting on public transport or while holding food or drink. The consequences could be highly embarrassing.
Yes, this is another hilarious read from one of Britain and America's favourite writers. It is hard to call Bryson a travel writer anymore because he is building up an eclectic catalogue of works on the subjects of science, language and history. This book tells of his childhood in the fifties, at a time when America itself was undergoing a renaissance. His memories of Des Moines are touching and enthralling, and anecdotes of home and school life are frequently laugh-out-loud moments. The balance between humour and history is perfect.
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The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson (Paperback - 4 Jun 2007)