The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid; a Memoir by Bill Bryson

Author Bill Bryson grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, in the 1950s and early 1960s.  His memoir gives a delightfully humorousthunderbolt picture of life in that era.  Not only does he describe life as he experienced it, but he has done research to give a broader picture of mid-twentieth century America.  If you remember that time period, you’ll laugh often as you reminisce and compare Bryson’s life to your experiences.

As a child, Bryson owned a shirt with a picture of a lightning bolt on front, and he enjoyed thinking of himself as the “Thunderbolt Kid,” a superhero who could “zap” people who bothered him.  He writes at the end of the book, “The Thunderbolt Kid grew up and moved on.  Until quite recently he still occasionally vaporized people…but eventually he stopped eliminating people when he realized that he couldn’t tell which of them buy books.  The Sacred Jersey of Zap, moth-eaten and full of holes, was thrown out in about 1978 by his parents during a tragically misguided housecleaning exercise, along with his baseball cards, comic books, Boys’ Life magazines, Zorro whip and sword…Davy Crockett coonskin cap, Roy Rogers decorative cowboy vest and bejeweled boots with jingly tin spurs…Batman flashlight with signaling attachment…Hardy Boys books, and peerless set of movie posters, many in mint condition.”

Bryson’s books include armchair travel, such as his book about Australia, In a Sunburned Country; his memoir about hiking the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods; and A Short History of Nearly Everything, a history of science which not only got favorable comments from scientists but was fascinating to read.  People who have read his books often comment on his humor!

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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