The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

A Memoir

Book - 2006
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Sep 30, 2020

I absolutely loved reading At Home, Road to Little Dribbling and In a Sunburned Country. They are all very informative, and Little Dribbling and Sunburned Country were very funny. But I can't say the same thing for this book - yet I grew up in this era in a small western Canadian town. I feel like some other reviewers. I didn't enjoy his Thunderbolt Kid fantasy, his and his friends never ending childish crude antics; I found these tiring and I didn't relate to them as part of my childhood.

Bryson is a fantastic author with a unique writing style and very keen eye. But this book didn't hit the mark for me.

Had no idea young Billy Bryson was such a trickster as a youth! Most Boomers will feel his nostalgia for a time before franchises and shopping malls drained the life and character out of small cities and towns. What I most loved were his comments about his parents, his appreciation for his father's writing style: "...while Burns roamed...."! Ha. The apple didn't fall far from the tree.

ArapahoeLesley Jul 06, 2018

Bill Bryson can do no wrong. The wit and wisdom that he brings to everything he writes will keep me coming back for more for as long as he keeps writing. I'm having a great time catching up on all his past books.

Aug 19, 2016

Amusing and quick read!

May 24, 2016

There were a few good laughs and some interesting 50's history and recollections but overall this book isn't nearly as entertaining as Bryson's other books. It feels like a crude recollection of childhood smattered with vulgar language and an immature outlook. Read 'In a Sunburned Country' if you want a fun Bryson book.

rb3221 Nov 24, 2015

For anyone who lived through the 1950's (or for anyone who wants to know what it was like to live in the 1950's), I would recommend this book. Bryson remembers this simpler time, a time where parents expected you to be outside from eight in the morning till supper 'unless you were on fire or actively bleeding'. He takes us through his childhood and a series of topics like the space race, the nuclear bomb, the emergence of TV and discusses these topics and many more with humour and often with a nostalgia of what he believes were the better times. After all the 50's kids were indestructible as "we didn't need seat belts, air bags, smoke detectors, bottled water...helmets when we rode our bike, child safety caps on our medicines". Yes, very true indeed! It was an era where more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette (ha,ha) and supermarket foods contained so many chemical additives and "sometimes they contained some food as well, I believe." He discusses at length the toys of the 50's including model making (kits with sixty thousand tiny parts and tubes of glue that would result in hundreds of sagging strands that were "all connected to something that had nothing to do with model airplanes" Again just as I remember it and very funny too. They had to worry about "polio, keeping up with the Joneses, Negroes moving into the neighbourhood and the number one fear being teenagers.
This is a well written easy to read book with lots of very funny moments. It ends with a sense that something good was lost and he laments that "we didn't keep the things that made us different and special and attractive." "What a wonderful world it was. We won't see its like again, I'm afraid". And being of that era, I heartily agree!!

PimaLib_HeatherR May 09, 2015

A memoir about a happy childhood!

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 24, 2015

A child of the fifties, Bryson's brilliant and hilarious portrayal of the themes of the day (the emergence of television, the atom bomb...) and scenes from his family life will have you reading aloud to anyone who will listen. If you like to laugh this is a must read.

Dec 09, 2014

A very well written and complete walk down memory lane if you grew up in the 50's. Wonderful quick to read book!

Apr 28, 2014

For all Brysonites, this is a must read!

bescales May 28, 2012

For anyone interested in a good memoir that captures life in the 50 and 60s, this is the book to read. Having grown up in the 70's, I could relate to a lot of the nostalgia and belly laughed at the similarities. Bill Bryson is a witty and talented author.

Nov 13, 2011

A very good book - everyone born in the 50s should be able to relate to it - especially if you were born in the US of A. There were many laughs. Bill Bryson has a nice engaging style.

Sep 20, 2011

Dreadful, vulgar, smugly middlebrow. When I grew up in the 50's we did not joke about pissing in the jam jars or snigger at the neighbor man who jerked off watching Julie Newman on TV.

I used to like, admire even, Bill Bryson. Not any more.

Jul 10, 2011

An enjoyable walk down memory lane for me, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson tells of his early years in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1950’s. Such a strange time, so many things to worry about - Communists, Atomic War, giant mutated bugs - and yet, as a whole such a happy time. The war was over, and North America got down to the business of making money, raising a family and driving cars.

In his usual humorous way, he walks us through his memories of childhood, giving us a few facts and figures along the way. His descriptions jogged my memory and overall, I enjoyed this book very much. A little repetitive at times, and I don’t know if people who didn’t live through the fifties would be able to relate to how simple and naïve we actually were.

This is my second Bill Bryson book, and I am eager to continue exploring this author’s writings. He is a master at entertaining and enlightening his readers. For me The Life and Time of the Thunderbolt Kid was a wonderful trip back to the fifties and a way of life that has disappeared.

Jul 04, 2011

I wasn't born nowhere near where near the 1950's but this book was laugh out loud funny,i couldn't help but enjoy reading it? I will ever forget the "toity" jars....If you're looking for a good laugh,read this memoir!

smc01 Jan 25, 2011

Bill Bryson's stories about growing up in the 1950s are thoroughly delightful. He has a knack for taking the ordinary and making it extraordinarily funny or special. It was refreshing to read about someone's normal, happy childhood.

Jan 10, 2011

This was a very fun read! Laughed out loud often.

Nov 01, 2010

I love Bill Bryson. He has a unique way of looking at life and writing about it.

Sep 24, 2010

Read this for book club while other read different Bill Bryson novels, very interesting and many good laughs

Apr 24, 2010

A great laugh out loud read! For anyone born in the '40's or '50's it's great discussion book.

Dec 13, 2009

Fun, as all his books are.

Sep 30, 2007

I don't think I've ever laughed out loud so often; plagued my husband by reading out loud passages through the tears streaming down my face; or had such a great time reading a book - and that's saying something, considering how much I read, and how much I enjoy reading. Perhaps this is especially true for anyone who grew up in the 1950's in Canada or the United States. Mr. Bryson is just sooooooooo "right on" and reminded me of so many incidents from my own childhood. He not only portrays them accurately, but hysterically - and from a perspective of "looking back" that I can only admire. How does he remember everything so well? A terrific, terrific read. Highly recommended. Give this to your siblings for Christmas.

Feb 28, 2007

This is a wonderfully comfortable book. A memoir, it reads easily with much statistical information about the 50s. But also is laugh-out-loud funny! Recommended.

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