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eBook The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir epub

by Bill Bryson

eBook The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir epub
  • ISBN: 0385661614
  • Author: Bill Bryson
  • Genre: Biographies
  • Subcategory: Memoirs
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada; 1st edition (October 17, 2006)
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • ePUB size: 1659 kb
  • FB2 size 1111 kb
  • Formats lit txt txt doc


Bill Bryson’s laugh-out-loud pilgrimage through his Fifties childhood in heartland America is a national treasure.

Bill Bryson’s laugh-out-loud pilgrimage through his Fifties childhood in heartland America is a national treasure. It’s full of insights, wit, and wicked adolescent fantasies. Bill Bryson's bestselling books include A Walk in the Woods, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, and A Short History of Nearly Everything (which won the Aventis Prize in Britain and the Descartes Prize, the European Union's highest literary award). He was chancellor of Durham University, England's third oldest university, from 2005 to 2011, and is an honorary fellow of Britain's Royal Society.

SO THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT NOT VERY MUCH: about being small and getting larger slowly.

You really should never fuck with the Thunderbolt Kid. Chapter 2. Welcome to kid world. AP)-Great news for boys! A prominent doctor has defended a boy’s right to be dirty. SO THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT NOT VERY MUCH: about being small and getting larger slowly. One of the great myths of life is that childhood passes quickly.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is a 2006 memoir by best-selling travel writer Bill Bryson. The book delves into Bryson's past, telling of his youth growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, during the 1950s and early 1960s. It also reveals the backstory between himself and Stephen Katz, who appeared in A Walk in the Woods and "Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe.

The Thunderbolt Kid (aka Bill Bryson ) will be your trusty tour guide. Ah, the 50s-a time when cigarettes made you healthy, your daily dose of amphetamines came in morning cereal, soda was the elixir of life, and prominent doctors defended a boy's right to be dirty

The Thunderbolt Kid (aka Bill Bryson ) will be your trusty tour guide. Ah, the 50s-a time when cigarettes made you healthy, your daily dose of amphetamines came in morning cereal, soda was the elixir of life, and prominent doctors defended a boy's right to be dirty. In his telltale jocular but informative manner, Bryson lets his readers in on some of his childhood exploits, as well as the hopes and fears of the era.

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.

I don’t know of anything that better conveys the happy bounty of the age than a photograph (reproduced in this volume as the endpapers at the front and back of the book) that ran in Life magazine two weeks before my birth.

An Excerpt from Bill Bryson’s At Home. In memory of jed mattes. Foreword and Acknowledgments. My kid days were pretty good ones, on the whole. I don’t know of anything that better conveys the happy bounty of the age than a photograph (reproduced in this volume as the endpapers at the front and back of the book) that ran in Life magazine two weeks before my birth. It shows the Czekalinski family of Cleveland, Ohio-Steve, Stephanie, and two sons, Stephen and Henry-surrounded by the two and a half tons of food that a typical blue-collar family ate in a year.

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Bill Bryson remembers a 1950’s childhood in the middle of America. At the heart of the manifold exaggerations is a much larger truth, a shocking revelation that few memoirists have been so brave to admit: he had a happy childhood. Just because his family was happy, pace Tolstoy, doesn’t mean it wasn’t strange - that is, the normal strange that only 1950’s America has spawned.

Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century1951in the middle of the United StatesDes Moines, Iowain the .

Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century1951in the middle of the United StatesDes Moines, Iowain the middle of the largest generation in American historythe 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 twenty-four-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero.

The Thunderbolt Kid was the imaginary superhero persona Bryson invented for himself when things got a bit dull in Des Moines, Iowa, in the early Fifties

The Thunderbolt Kid was the imaginary superhero persona Bryson invented for himself when things got a bit dull in Des Moines, Iowa, in the early Fifties. When wearing a particular old jumper - his Thunderbolt uniform - he decided he had the ability to vaporise people who annoyed him. For a contented, imaginative child it is this small touch of redemptive magic that transforms this 'ordinary' life into a funny, effortlessly readable, quietly enchanted memoir.

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.
Comments: (7)
Xisyaco
Seriously. I was up past bedtime, and I was reading Bryson's description of lame 1950's toys. I won't give it away, but imagine what he can do with the topic of "electric football". After a particularly vigorous episode of chortling, my wife trudged out of bed to decree that, if I insisted on continuing to read, I'd have to take it downstairs.

And that's what this book is, a laugh-out-loud remembrance of a simpler, sillier time. Bryson's travelogues are what made him famous, and he never would have made it without a fantastic memory for detail and an ability to convey a vivid mental picture of the topics he chooses. His descriptions of 1950's Des Moines are consistently evocative. It's like a travelogue unearthed from a 50 year old time capsule. I feel like I have visited there.

Still, readers of Bryson known that what truly sets him apart is his uncanny ability to attract and describe morons, as well as all manner of idiotic situations (generally self-inflicted). For a man who can do this on, say, a simple trip to Australia, imagine how much comedy gold can be mined from a childhood in the Midwest of the 50's. It is, as they say, a target-rich environment. His remembrances include family, friends, school, Des Moines, lame childhood toys, nuclear bombs, and more. Even things like TV dinners, which we have all heard mocked before, are skewered in new and amusing ways.

For all of that, though, the memoir is not mean spirited. I think that the ridicule works so well because it is easy to sense Bryson's real affection for his subjects (well, at least the ones who aren't carbonized by the x-ray vision of the Thunderbolt Kid). He's poking fun, but in a way that family and friends might poke fun at each other over old childhood foibles at a Thanksgiving dinner. It's the humor that you get when your wife knows that you're ridiculous, but loves you just the same. This book belongs with such classic tributes to youth as The Wonder Years, Stand By Me, and A Christmas Story. Buy it, and enjoy it. Just try not to read it next to someone's bedroom.
White gold
So I love Bill Bryson - and have bought many of his books and Cds - however I was dismayed to see something marked as "Audio CD" shipped out which is a weird Ipod nano sized MP3 device with the whole book on it. (appears to be a non-rewriteable MP3 device) Not that that's not a neat idea - but it demands you listen via headphones - I listen at work or while I drive and was expecting a CD - I am returning this item - and looking forward to getting a real CD. Buyer beware!! But Bill Bryson is a great reader and storyteller.
Pringles
You can't judge a book by its cover. That much I already learned 20 years ago, while reading the tragedy-shrouded comic masterpiece "A Confederacy of Dunces." This notion was unequivocally confirmed during the past couple weeks, as I savored nearly every sentence of Bill Bryson’s exceptionally wise and witty “memoir,” which I obtained from a used book dealer here in Vancouver, Canada for the smartest $1 investment that I’ve ever made.

The saga begins in Des Moines, IA in 1951 with Mr. Bryson’s birth to an unheralded genius sportswriter father and a loving absent-minded mother with a penchant for burning food and, with humor and at times pathos spanning the entire range of sophistication, follows his adventures growing up in America’s corn capital. The reader is taken along a roller coaster ride through nearly two decades of America at its pinnacle, when optimism for the future was the norm - in spite of the eerie McCarthy conservatism that Mr. Bryson doesn’t fail to mention - within a vibrant hard-working society with abundant jobs that suddenly discovered a world of comfort and seeming happiness filled with wondrous new gadgets of all shapes and sizes. It’s in this world where children enjoyed relatively immense freedom, compared to what they face in our society just over half a century later. The tall-fish tales abound when Mr. Bryson details the can’t-stop-laughing-out-loud misadventures of his many mischievous friends, with names like Buddy Doberman and Milton Milton. In fact, one would think that Des Moines is on the coast, with all the fishy truth stretching that goes on... But Mr.
Bryson is at his best when he integrates fact and fiction seamlessly for inevitably hilarious results.

Perhaps this book’s great personal appeal has something to do with my arrival in Winnipeg, Canada from Europe at the age of six, where I’d spend the next 13 years thawing toes and scratching welts, not to mention playing in rock bands, proudly drinking under age, shooting paper clips and throwing frozen eggs at animate and inanimate objects, shooting pucks and sometimes shooting pellet guns indoors, and in general having fun, which for a boy then typically meant doing things one wasn’t supposed to do, according to those in authority. Geographically, Winnipeg is Canada’s Des Moines; it’s also the respective nation’s bread basket and metropolitan oasis in the middle of fields and more fields, but the similarities don’t end there. The portrayal of Des Moines of the ‘50s so much reminded me of Winnipeg in the late 60s/early 70s… In fact, at times I thought that Mr. Bryson was describing the Winnipeg of my youth, with its exciting and friendly department stores, atmospheric movie theatres, endless eateries high on fun and low on healthy diet, its surprisingly easy access to underage beer, etc. But mostly what Bill and I had in common as children in two different cities half a generation apart was time, lots of time to goof around and learn who were, on our own terms. My children (aged 9 and 5) and their friends don’t have that time… or opportunity.

Tears came to my eyes often as I read this epic satirical statement against mindless conformity and disrespect for the past. For the vast majority of the first 258 pages they were tears of joy and laughter. But then came the final 10-page chapter, aptly titled “Farewell”, and I cried. Really, this very grown man actually started crying. Mr. Bryson’s lament of how Des Moines has changed from the days of his childhood (book was written in 2006) hit me hard, as I thought about the scores of historic music theaters, cafes, night clubs and beautiful residences that have been torn down in my current home Vancouver in the name of “progressive development” since I returned here in 2006 (coincidentally the year the book was written), after living 17 years in other countries and cities. This destructive development has completely altered the city’s atmosphere and corroded its community spirit. But Vancouver has world-class beautiful scenery, at least. What about poor Winnipeg, where I left in 1981 but return ever 5 years to visit? Like Des Moines, it likely has some sensitive souls such as Mr. Bryson “imagining again having things that no other city had” and trying to cope with the harsh truth that it never will.
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