Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Title: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
Author: Bill Bryson
Genre: Adult Biography / Memoir
Pages: 268
Edition: Hardcover

Life and Times of Thunderbolt Kid is a hysterically funny memoir of Bill Bryson's reminiscences of his childhood days in Des Moines, Iowa during 1950s. Captivated by his wry humor, I found several of his anecdotes quite amusing and I was laughing my heads off reading them over and over again! Born in 1951 in Des Moines, Bill grew up in a loving but slightly eccentric family where his dad, a talented sportswriter and mom, a home furnishings editor, both worked for "Des Moines Register", a local newspaper. The Thunderbolt Kid mentioned in the book is a fictitious character born when he discovers a green, moth-holed woolen jersey with a golden thunderbolt on it while rummaging the basement in the house.
Some of his recollections such as the innovative use of "toity jars" kept under the sink, his dad's isometrics practice sessions on the plane, dinner episodes with Uncle Dee and why he finds eating cottage cheese quite repugnant, Peanut M & M missiles aimed at soup bowls, tree house adventures in the woods, roller-coaster rides in Riverview park, his futile attempts to visit the stripper's tent in state fair, life in the fantasy Bizzaro World, escapade from Dewey, encounters with Mrs.Vandermeister a forgetful old lady who lived in the neighborhood and his adventures as a thunderbolt kid were utterly hilarious.
The newspaper clippings that preludes each chapter were quite chuckle some too. "In Milwaukee, uninjured when his auto swerved off the highway, Eugene Cromwell stepped out to survey the damage and fell into a 50-feet limestone quarry. He suffered a broken arm. - Time magazine, April 23, 1956."
Also, interspersed throughout the book were his accounts of how 1950s happened to be the golden period for America with the advent of modern equipments like refrigerators, washing machines, telephone, vacuum cleaners, electric stoves and so on and how people were blissfully happy and boastful of their new possessions they had, they could never dream of. The author wistfully mentions that it was happy times for everyone when life was unsupervised, unregulated yet remarkably peaceful and how it would never be the same again. Being an immigrant, I couldn't completely resonate with his experiences, yet I found his writing style to be quite charming, witty and utterly captivating. Overall, a delightful read!!
My Rating: 4.8/5


Ash said...

Must check it out....thanks!

Happy Reader said...

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you you enjoy this book as much as I did. I will visit your blog sometime soon.

Lotus Reads said...

Another great review, Chitts, thank you! Bill Bryson has such a great sense of humour, I have no doubt his memoir is hysterically funny! I especially would like to read about his encounters with Mrs.Vandermeister and his futile attempts to visit the stripper at the fair! lol I usually howl with laughter when I read his travel books, and I can't wait to do that all over again, when I read this one!

Many thanks for this wonderful write up.

Happy Reader said...

Thanks! In fact, Mrs.Vandermeister anecdote was so freaking hilarious that tears were streaming down my cheeks when I was reading it :) I am very glad to have found this author and I am looking forward to read his other books.