Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Life and Time of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

image from LibraryThing

This was a really fun read! Bryson's writing is witty and laugh out loud funny. This is the rather exaggerated story of his growing up years - in Des Moines - in the 50s. He believes he has come to this planet to save it from morons as the Thunderbolt Kid... able to reduce imbeciles to a pile of smoldering ashes by his amazing glance.

The book weaves Bryson's life into the tale of the long forgotten Des Moines of the 50s - sharing the history and good will of the times with the deep ironies that it was. What other decade had such awful toys, such a joy of blowing things up yet had the year voted cheerfulest year (1957)???

He doesn't necessarily long for the good old days, rather he seems to understand that he was privileged to be a part of something that could never happen again. The granduer of old movie houses, the innocence of a unracist school and growing up amid scores and hordes of kids - all out doors without an adult in the vicinity!

Bryson doesn't sentamentalize the 50s as much as he just shares the good and the bad.

His closing chapter - looking back at why society has felt the need to destroy the old rather than revitalizing and connecting it with the possibilities of the new is a point to ponder.

This is the second Bryson book I've read - A Walk in the Woods - is his hilarious story of hiking the Appalachian Trail!

On a side note - the guys dad grew up in Winfield!!! Small world???

This gets a hearty recommendation!!

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