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The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid: Travels Through my Childhood (Bryson) Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook, CD
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Bill Bryson on his most personal journey yet: into his own childhood in America's Mid-West.
Some say that the first hint that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came when his mother sent him to school in lime-green Capri pants. Others think it all started with his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people's hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman. Bill Bryson's first travel book opened with the immortal line, 'I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.' In his deeply funny new memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about growing up in a specific time and place. But in Bryson's hands, it becomes everyone's story, one that will speak volumes - especially to anyone who has ever been young.See all Product description
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The title itself struck me right away and I quickly decided to give this book a whirl rather than dive into his famous travel books straight away. I enjoyed it from start to finish and had a good laugh along the way. From his dad's discovery of the toity jar, to the visits to Uncle Dee. From the increase in nuclear activity in 50s America to the stripper's tent at the local fair. Bryson paints an enthralling and vibrant image of his childhood so brilliantly and educates us (and most probably reminds others) about a world that, sadly, no longer exists. I have a keen interest in the USA in general, but 50s America seems so charming and idyllic the way Bryson describes it. He makes Des Moines seem like a wonderful place to have grown up in.
I'd urge anyone to give this a read. As a newcomer to Bryson's work I have found this a wonderful second stepping stone into his collection. After reading this I cannot wait to read more of his material.
In the main it was a funny book, but it was sad in places, especially when he traces the changes to the city in the 1960s as strip malls, McDonalds and Wal Mart changed the individuality of much of what is Mid-Western America.
The funniest parts were his early childhood. He catches the imagination of young children well. I found his later childhood a little more alien. I don't know him, but having read him, I don't see him as much of a swearer. I don't remember him swearing much in his other books, so was surprised (rather than shocked) to see him swear a few times here, when he was describing his teenage years. I imagine he was trying to communicate what he was like as a teenager, but I'm not sure it worked.
The other thing that surprised me about the book was quite how much of a typical teenager he was. As I said, I've read his other books, and I've always imagined he was dorkier than he's presented here, and that might surprise you as much as it surprised me.
If you can set those quibbles aside, you'll like the book. If you don't then you might not like it so much.
I found myself substituting Crown Point or Hammond for Des Moines and a lot of the characters resembled people I knew growing up. This was written in a very readable light style simlar to Jean Shepherd's growing up in Hammond. I really think this is a good book to represent our generation, both to those who lived it and their decendents who wonder how we got the way we are.
Thanks to the love of my life for giving me this book.
I laughed out loud at his father's out of character taking the family to Disneyland as well as the motley crew of childhood relatives and friends he describes.
He could actually be describing any of our childhoods, from teenage crushes, the hierarchy of a gang of mates, Saturday morning cinema, comics and school. Which ever western country you grew up in you no doubt learnt to read from a book where 'Father' always wore a suit and 'Mother' a frilly apron and everyone said "look" at the beginning of each sentence!!
As well as being informative about 1950's America, it's a really entertaining read for those who like to look back happily on their childhood.
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