The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir

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The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir

by Bill Bryson

Doubleday Canada | September 25, 2007 | Trade Paperback

The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir is rated 3.7273 out of 5 by 11.
From one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the English language, a vivid, nostalgic and utterly hilarious memoir of growing up in the middle of the United States in the middle of the last century. A book that delivers on the promise that it is “laugh-out-loud funny.”

Some say that the first hints that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came from 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 this hilarious new memoir, he travels back to explore the kid he once was and the weird and wonderful world of 1950s America. He modestly claims that this is a book about not very much: about being small and getting much larger slowly. But for the rest of us, it is a laugh-out-loud book that will speak volumes – especially to anyone who has ever been young.


From the Hardcover edition.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 288 pages, 8 × 5.17 × 0.73 in

Published: September 25, 2007

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385661622

ISBN - 13: 9780385661621

Found in: Travel

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from My favourite by him (so far) This is a memoir of Bill Bryson's childhood, growing up in the 1950s in rural Iowa. I really enjoyed this. The 1950s were more my parents' era than mine, but it was fun to read about all the events that happened and just general day-to-day stuff. There was a brief section in the middle that I didn't seem to find as funny, but a lot of it was. I think this is probably my favourite by Bryson that I've read so far. I listened to the audio, which also included a really interesting, short interview with Bryson about the book.
Date published: 2013-02-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not Bill Bryson's Best I found parts of this book to be hysterically funny; many parts, though, boring and repetetive. I enjoy Bryson's travel books, his first I read was about Australia, and then I picked up his others, read them and passed them on -- about the US, about Europe -- they were truly good reads. But this one, his autobiography, could have been passed over.
Date published: 2010-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Terrific Title If you are forty-five years or older, you will devour this book and enjoy every moment of the experience. The rest of you will also enjoy it as you get some insight into just how your parents lived in the fifities. The book tells the story of a little boy growing up in the fifties in Iowa, but it could be any little boy anywhere in the United States or Canada. As you read it you cannot help but think about the differences in the way we were raised and the way we are raising children today. One story tells of how the kids used to wait while the tractor spreading dandelion killer drove down the road and sprayed over them. The line afterwards says "thinking about it, I believe I did feel a little tingle when I went to bed that night". Remember the times when your mother opened the door in the morning and told you to come home in time for supper? When pure joy was riding the swings n the park or hiding between the clothes while your mother shopped. You'll laugh out loud while "Billy" lies on the kitchen table with a broken arm while the Doctor (who has come to the house) discusses the benefits of his new Oldsmobile with Billy's Dad. I have bought and given away at least ten copies of this book and every single recipient has thought it was terrific. Well done Bill Bryson, a real "ten" with no challenging message, just pure entertainment about a time when we like to believe that life was simpler.
Date published: 2009-04-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Nostalgic Fun Bill Bryson was born in 1951, at the beginning of what he describes as a wonderful decade. With a combination of subtle and outrageous humour and a deep fondness, he reminisces about his family, and the other influences on his life. Unfortunately the book starts to follow a pattern after a while and I found myself getting bored, but it was great while the fun lasted.
Date published: 2008-09-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from To Know Him Is To Love Him. Bill Bryson has always left a large part of himself in his travel books because they are not so much about a place but him in that place. And most of his books I haven't actually read but listened to the audio books - the best of them narrated by Mr. Bryson himself. They are wonderful and funny and personable. So I already felt like I knew him. After his memoir, that has only increased. It was poignant and funny and witty and just plain laugh out loud. I am not a contemporary of Bryson age-wise but he painted a vivid picture of the 50s and middle America. I think this may be my favourite book of his now - and that is saying a lot.
Date published: 2008-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nostalgia with a purpose Although most people think their childhood years were better than the present, I think Bill Bryson has a point. Our amalgamated and uniform culture may not be quite the advance it is held out to be. The viewpoint is served up with his usual wit. This book is literally laugh out loud funny. Even if you are not a contempory of Bill Bryson (and I am) you will enjoy the book.
Date published: 2008-02-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A wonderfully hilarious romp through the 50's! If you were a child of the 50's you must read this book. Bryson's sharp wit and satirical insight can be both "laugh out loud" or " Oh my God!". I felt like I was 7 all over again. My recollections of the cars, the hairstyles, the food, the TV programs, and the Adults In My Life, were sharpened by his wonderful descriptions and made me long for a simpler time -until of course, he gets to the part about the Cold War - were I too, felt safe and indestructable. The Thunderbolt Kid lives on in all of us Baby Boomers to some degree! Thanks Bill, for a rollicking good look back.
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Return to the Past! I was dubious at first if a personal memoir by one of the best scribes around could capture the magic of his reknowned travelogues. Guess what? The Thunderbolt Kid's bio is a raucous and insightful return to the good old days of mid-West Americana which was a major factor in shaping Bill Bryson's views of the world. Guaranteed that you will read this book in one sitting and wish that you grew in a different time and different place where things were so much simpler but oh so weirder. Great stuff!
Date published: 2007-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hilariously funny A laugh-out-loud read for we baby boomers who were children during the '50's - it brought back so many memories of those wonderful childhood days full of fun, angst and bewildering adults. And reading of the actions of politicians of that time makes me glad I didn't know any better when I was just starting school. I'd recommend this to any baby boomer, or their children who don't understand the things we laugh about.
Date published: 2007-01-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Bryson a Funny Guy! Bill Bryson is actually a funny guy and all of his books are quite amusing. It helps to have an actual sense of humour though, J.D.
Date published: 2006-11-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Unfunny and disrespectful twaddle Bryson is a completely unfunny and barely literate writer. He is disrespectful of great people -- people infinitely better than he could EVER be. Whatever made this guy think his life story was worth telling?
Date published: 2006-10-31

– More About This Product –

The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir

by Bill Bryson

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 288 pages, 8 × 5.17 × 0.73 in

Published: September 25, 2007

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385661622

ISBN - 13: 9780385661621

Read from the Book

EXCERPT Burns Unit The only downside of my mother’s working was that it put a little pressure on her with regard to running the home and particularly with regard to dinner, which frankly was not her strong suit anyway. My mother always ran late and was dangerously forgetful into the bargain. You soon learned to stand aside about ten to six every evening, for it was then that she would fly in the back door, throw something in the oven, and disappear into some other quarter of the house to embark on the thousand other household tasks that greeted her each evening. In consequence she nearly always forgot about dinner until a point slightly beyond way too late. As a rule you knew it was time to eat when you could hear baked potatoes exploding in the oven. We didn’t call it the kitchen in our house. We called it the Burns Unit. “It’s a bit burned,” my mother would say apologetically at every meal, presenting you with a piece of meat that looked like something — a much-loved pet perhaps — salvaged from a tragic house fire. “But I think I scraped off most of the burned part,” she would add, overlooking that this included every bit of it that had once been flesh. Happily, all this suited my father. His palate only responded to two tastes — burnt and ice cream — so everything suited him so long as it was sufficiently dark and not too startlingly flavorful. Theirs truly was a marriage made in heaven for no one could burn
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From the Publisher

From one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the English language, a vivid, nostalgic and utterly hilarious memoir of growing up in the middle of the United States in the middle of the last century. A book that delivers on the promise that it is “laugh-out-loud funny.”

Some say that the first hints that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came from 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 this hilarious new memoir, he travels back to explore the kid he once was and the weird and wonderful world of 1950s America. He modestly claims that this is a book about not very much: about being small and getting much larger slowly. But for the rest of us, it is a laugh-out-loud book that will speak volumes – especially to anyone who has ever been young.


From the Hardcover edition.

From the Jacket

“Outlandishly and improbably entertaining. . . . An evocation of childhood that’s movingly true, no exaggeration necessary.”
—The New York Times

“An entertaining romp of a book. . . . By the end of this vaudeville bill of a memoir, [Bryson] has you wishing you’d grown up in Des Moines in the 1950s yourself.”
—The Globe and Mail

“Pitch-perfect, nostalgic, and tenderly ironic. . . . Wise. Somewhat innocent. This is a marvelous book.”
—The Boston Globe

“A book about the joy of small things, about the rich and distinctive features that constitute normality, about the strange and singular ways in which everyday life is anything but quotidian. . . . Bryson is the master of the telling detail.”
—Observer (UK)

About the Author

Bill Bryson’s bestselling books include A Walk in the Woods, Neither Here Nor There, In a Sunburned Country, Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, and A Short History of Nearly Everything, the latter of which earned him the 2004 Aventis Prize. Bryson lives in England with his wife and children.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

“Outlandishly and improbably entertaining. . . . An evocation of childhood that’s movingly true, no exaggeration necessary.”
—The New York Times

“An entertaining romp of a book. . . . By the end of this vaudeville bill of a memoir, [Bryson] has you wishing you’d grown up in Des Moines in the 1950s yourself.”
—The Globe and Mail

“Pitch-perfect, nostalgic, and tenderly ironic. . . . Wise. Somewhat innocent. This is a marvelous book.”
—The Boston Globe

“A book about the joy of small things, about the rich and distinctive features that constitute normality, about the strange and singular ways in which everyday life is anything but quotidian. . . . Bryson is the master of the telling detail.”
—Observer (UK)
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