The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir PDF

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir [PDF / Epub] ☁ The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir Author Bill Bryson – From one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the English language comes a vivid nostalgic and utterly hilarious memoir Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century—1951—in From one of and Times PDF ´ the most beloved and bestselling authors in the English language comes a vivid nostalgic and utterly hilarious memoir Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century——in the middle of the United States—Des Moines Iowa—in the middle of the largest generation in American history—the baby boomers Like millions of his generational peers The Life ePUB í Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero In his case he ran around his house and neighborhood with a tee shirt that identified him as The Thunderbolt Kid Using his old fantasy life persona as a springboard Bill Bryson recreates the life of his family in the s in all its transcendent normalityWarm Life and Times PDF É and laugh out loud funny and full Life and Times of the Epub / of his inimitable pitch perfect observations THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE THUNDERBOLT KID is as wondrous a book as Bill Bryson has ever written It will enchant anyone who has ever been young.

10 thoughts on “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir

  1. Drew Drew says:

    I'm a big fan of Bill Bryson's writing but this one was both uplifting and saddening at the same time The premise of the book is how Bill learned to see a country be wooed by the siren song of prosperity through the guise of his own internal superhero persona the Thunderbolt Kid This is an engaging book which takes the reader back to simpler times with plenty of Bryson's characteristic laugh out loud funny moments to go around The Thunderbolt Kid persona is really a subtitle to the main idea of the book a fond trip down memory lane to revisit America in a innocent state That was the saddening part of the book as well the inevitable loss of innocence that prosperity and productivity brings makes one yearn for the days when going downtown was the highlight of the week where people dressed up to go out and where things were just fun because people didn't know any better Bryson's insightful commentary on how the American people used their newfound free time due to labor saving devices to work ever harder in order to earn money to buy yet labor saving devices The vicious cycle of not only keeping up with those cursed Joneses but rather outdoing them was born and in the process simple pleasures like matinee movies the corner drugstore with a soda fountain and specialty stores were swept off of the face of North AmericaReading this book is like sitting down with a grandparent or elder family member and just listening to them tell stories of the good old days and in Bryson's perspective they really were good and we should all be sorry that they are gone forever So take a read of this book and see where we've been because it will put a whole new perspective on where we're going

  2. Jason Koivu Jason Koivu says:

    Bryson played my funnybones like a xylophone The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is about growing up in the '50s It's the sort of coming of age tale that educates along the way God I love this stuffIt very much reminded me of the classic movie A Christmas Story Here on Goodreads amongst all you worthy readers I'm ashamed to say I haven't yet read the short stories by Jean Shepherd that the movie is based upon But if they're anything like the movie then they're filled with remembrances of how things once were which is the path Bryson takes It's a nostalgic road at times At others it is sarcastic Almost always it is humorous and engaging Bryson has a way with words and a talent for feeding you history without making you gag He also has my kind of sense of humor so together these things are bound to deliver at least a very enjoyable read However this Thunder Bolt rockets into the stratosphere with HYPERBOLE You read that right Bryson often intentionally writes over the top when describing outcomes and conseuences of his many childhood tales Little Johnny's chemistry set doesn't just blow up it lifts the roof off the house This is how a kid would tell the tale and it sets the perfect tone creating a book that really draws you into those heady kid days where summer vacations lasted years simple joys or disappointments were end game emotions and anything seemed possible

  3. Mara Mara says:

    Welcome to Des Moines Iowa and the 1950s There are some things you should be afraid of mainly Communism teenagers and comic books not approved by the Comics Code Authority But no need to worry 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 He lets us enjoy the humors of hindsight but manages to do so without sounding glib The “let's suspend everything in JELL O ” craze revelation that cakes were best served upside down and miraculous advent of the TV dinner are no bizarre than today's cuisine will seem come 2040 The same holds true for technologies The 1959 launch of the USS Barbero was thought to be just the first among many deliveries made by Missile Mail spoiler alert it was also the last Need to buy a new pair of loafers? No problem We'll just use this handy X Ray Foot o Scope to find you the perfect fit though as Bryson mentions this handy gadget was already on the way out as he was making his way into the world How was your trip?I had a great time thanks for asking Three stars is a good rating by my measure This wasn't the best time I've had with Bryson and children of the 50s will likely have an added layer of nostalgic enjoyment that I just can't appreciate Well I'm off to turn on my breakfast—I can't be late for the family reunion in our self flying car Dr Harvey Fleck as uoted in The Des Moines Register August 28 1958 stated that boys instinctively resisting freuent washings were in fact keepers of “a profound dermatological truth” that the skin's protective layer of grease should not be overly disturbed

  4. Kim Kim says:

    Bill Bryson's travel writing is often hilarious and usually perceptive In many ways this book – Bryson’s memoir of growing up in Des Moines Iowa in the 1950s and 1960s is also travel writing In remembering and sharing his past Bryson takes his readers to another place and time both of which he vividly evokes in the narrative I laughed a lot while listening to Bryson read the audiobook version of his memoir At times I laughed so much that there was a risk my bus commute would be embarrassing and my driving commute would be dangerous Bryson has a wonderful ability to find the ridiculous in most situations as well as in himself his family and everyone around him He also has the gift of humorous exaggeration some of the incidents he writes about are clearly tall tales or at least tales that have been stretched for effect This is not just a memoir it is also a domestic history of the United States of the 1950s and 1960s a limited history it is true of white Middle America but an interesting history nevertheless While Bryson has unashamed nostalgia for some aspects of that history his criticism of other aspects of US history is pointed I’m younger than Bryson although by less than a decade and I grew up far from Des Moines My childhood was in almost all respects uite different from Bryson’s Nevertheless his childhood experiences – particularly the experiences of his early childhood – speak to me In recounting his history Bryson has the ability to get readers to reflect on their own past It may be that some early childhood experiences are universal – for example first days at school and relationships with siblings and friends For me Bryson's early childhood experiences are the most interesting part of that part of the books which is a personal memoir It is fair to say that I found the last part of the book which deals with Bryson’s teenage years less engaging than the rest of it Even though I have sons of my own I find the shenanigans of teenage boys of limited interest particularly when those shenanigans involve view spoilerlooking for porn and stealing beer hide spoiler

  5. Chrissie Chrissie says:

    My first Bryson book I will be reading by the author I enjoy the humor I spot checked the validity of the historical details thrown in and found them to be correct This pleased me Pseudonyms are used for the characters except for his agent Jed Mattes This seems perfectly reasonable So what kind of book is this? What is it really about? I think the best way to describe it is as a book of snapshots of a kid's life in the fifties in Mid America rather than either a biography of Bryson or a history book Bryson was born in Des Moines Iowa in the year 1951 I felt right at home myself being born in Milwaukee the same year It felt like going home I felt this through the author's choice of words the food we ate the toys we shared the movies we saw and the jokes and gadgets and life of a kid then and there It is an enjoyable read It’s entertaining It’s light Bryson narrates his own book I liked his narration He simply talks rather uickly in fact but I never had trouble following This isn't a performance; he is simply telling his story He doesn't through intonation point out the jokes Either you catch them or you don't I liked this too Zero dramatization is fine by me A friend told me he found the reading whiny I didn't perceive it that way at all I wonder why we differEverybody I ask has a different favorite by the author So how do I pick the next?

  6. Miranda Reads Miranda Reads says:

    Young Bill Bryson always pictured himself as a superhero and in this novel he is oneThe Thunderbolt Kid is a somewhat fictionalized retelling of Bryson's childhood Interspersing key events such as the ever present threat of nuclear war and humorous portrayals of his family with the heroic efforts of the Thunderbolt Kill Fun charming and a bit precociousAudiobook CommentsRead by Bill Bryson so cool when an author reads their own bookYouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Snapchat mirandareads Happy Reading

  7. James James says:

    This was the start of a definite return to form after a positive dip in the standard of Bill Bryson's booksWhat Bryson gives us here is all about growing up in 1950's America largely autobiographical although with Bryson's usually interesting and entertaining digressions it's a strong book and a must for all fans of the world and works of Bill Bryson

  8. Martin Martin says:

    America the 1950s and the golden age of plentyWelcome to the world of Bill Bryson the original Thunderbolt Kid News paper clippingSPRINGFIELD ILL AP—The State Senate of Illinois yesterday disbanded its Committee on Efficiency and Economy “for reasons of efficiency and economy”—Des Moines Tribune February 6 1955 Bill recalls life from a child's viewpoint as America expanded into the worldI CAN’T IMAGINE there has ever been a gratifying time or place to be alive than America in the 1950s No country had ever known such prosperity When the war ended the United States had 26 billion worth of factories that hadn’t existed before the war 140 billion in savings and war bonds just waiting to be spent no bomb damage and practically no competition All that American companies had to do was stop making tanks and battleships and start making Buicks and Frigidaires—and boy did theyBy 1951 when I came sliding down the chute almost 90 percent of American families had refrigerators and nearly three uarters had washing machines telephones vacuum cleaners and gas or electric stoves—things that most of the rest of the world could still only fantasize about Americans owned 80 percent of the world’s electrical goods controlled two thirds of the world’s productive capacity produced than 40 percent of its electricity 60 percent of its oil and 66 percent of its steel The 5 percent of people on Earth who were Americans had wealth than the other 95 percent combinedimage Remarkably almost all this wealth was American made Of the 75 million new cars sold in America in 1954 for instance 9993 percent were made in America by Americans We became the richest country in the world without needing the rest of the world The restaurant with atomic toilets yes reallyThe restrooms at Bishop’s had the world’s only atomic toilets—at least the only ones I have ever encountered When you flushed the seat automatically lifted and retreated into a seat shaped recess in the wall where it was bathed in a purple light that thrummed in a warm hygienic scientifically advanced fashion then gently came down again impeccably sanitized nicely warmed and practically pulsing with atomic thermoluminescence Goodness knows how many Iowans died from unexplained cases of buttock cancer throughout the 1950s and ’60s but it was worth every shriveled cheek We used to take visitors from out of town to the restrooms at Bishop’s to show them the atomic toilets and they all agreed that they were the best they had ever seenimage After sustaining a bloody wound on the back of his head Bill listens to his father call the doctorDoc” he was saying “You wouldn’t believe the amount of blood We’re swimming in it”On the other end I could hear Dr Alzheimer’s dementedly laid back voice “Well I could come over I suppose” he was saying “It’s just that I’m watching an awfully good golf tournament Ben Hogan is having a most marvelous round Isn’t it wonderful to see him doing well at his time of life? Now then have you managed to stop the bleeding?”“Well I’m sure trying”“Good good That’s excellent—that’s excellent Because he’s probably lost uite a lot of blood already Tell me is the little fellow still breathing?”“I think so” my father repliedI nodded helpfully“Yes he’s still breathing Doc”“That’s good that’s very good Okay I tell you what Give him two aspirin and nudge him once in a while to make sure he doesn’t pass out—on no account let him lose consciousness do you hear because you might lose the poor little fellow—and I’ll be over after the tournament Oh look at that—he’s gone straight off the green into the rough” There was the sound of Dr Alzheimer’s phone settling back into the cradle and the buzz of disconnectionimage Healthy KidsWe were indestructible We didn’t need seat belts air bags smoke detectors bottled water or the Heimlich maneuver We didn’t reuire child safety caps on our medicines We didn’t need helmets when we rode our bikes or pads for our knees and elbows when we went skating We knew without a written reminder that bleach was not a refreshing drink and that gasoline when exposed to a match had a tendency to combust We didn’t have to worry about what we ate because nearly all foods were good for us sugar gave us energy red meat made us strong ice cream gave us healthy bones coffee kept us alert and purring productivelyimage The 1950s was an innocent caring worldOn April 3 1956 according to news reports a Mrs Julia Chase of Hagerstown Maryland while on a tour of the White House slipped away from her tour group and vanished into the heart of the building For four and a half hours Mrs Chase who was described later as “dishevelled vague and not uite lucid” wandered through the White House setting small fires—five in all That’s how tight security was in those days a not uite lucid woman was able to roam unnoticed through the executive mansion for than half a working day You can imagine the response if anyone tried anything like that now the instantaneous alarms the scrambled Air Force jets the SWAT teams dropping from panels in the ceiling the tanks rolling across the lawns the ninety minutes of sustained gunfire pouring into the target area the lavish awarding of medals of bravery afterward including posthumously to the seventy six people in Virginia and eastern Maryland killed by friendly fire In 1956 Mrs Chase when found was taken to the staff kitchen given a cup of tea and released into the custody of her family and no one ever heard from her again His dad liked to save money especially on family holidays“Well everybody” he would announce “this year I think we’ll tour battlefields of the little known War of the Filipino Houseboys” He would fix us with a look that invited cries of rapturous approval“Oh I’ve never heard of that” my mom would say politely feigning enthusiasm“Well it was actually of a slaughter than a war” he would concede “It was over in three hours But it’s uite convenient for the National Museum of Agricultural Implements at Haystacks They have over seven hundred hoes apparently”As he spoke he would spread out a map of the western United States and point to some parched corner of Kansas or the Dakotas that no outsider had ever willingly visited beforeimage Comic books the gateway to ReadingThe one place where there was real excitement was comic books This really was the golden age of comics Nearly one hundred million of them were being produced every month by the middle of the decade It is almost impossible to imagine how central a place they played in the lives of the nation’s youth—and indeed than a few beyond youth A survey of that time revealed that no fewer than 12 percent of the nation’s teachers were devoted readers of comic books And that’s the ones who admitted it of course Bill's first introduction to sexComing in from play one Saturday and finding my mother missing from her usual haunts I decided impulsively to call on my father He had just returned that day from a long trip—and so we had a lot of catching up to do I rushed into his bedroom expecting to find him unpacking To my surprise the shades were drawn and my parents were in bed wrestling under the sheets More astonishing still my mother was winning My father was obviously in some distress He was making a noise like a small trapped animal“What are you doing?” I asked“Ah Billy your mother is just checking my teeth” my father replied uickly if not altogether convincinglyWe were all uiet a moment“Are you bare under there?” I asked“Why yes we are”“Why?”“Well” my father said as if that was a story that would take some telling “we got a bit warm It’s warm work teeth and gums and so on Look Billy we’re nearly finished here Why don’t you go downstairs and we’ll be down shortly”I believe you are supposed to be traumatized by these things I can’t remember being troubled at all though it was some years before I let my mother look in my mouth again The Cuba crisis and the start of World War ThreeKennedy ordered Khrushchev to cease building launchpads in Cuba or elseThe presidential address I saw was telling us that we were now at the “or else” part of the scenarioimage It was evident from Kennedy’s tone that all this was going to be the start of the War So I went and ate the last piece of a Toddle House chocolate pie that had been promised to my sister then hung around on the back porch wishing to be the first to tell my parents the news that we were all about to die When they arrived home they told me not to worry that everything would be all right and they were right of course as always We didn’t die—though I came closer than anybody when my sister discovered that I had eaten her piece of pieBill was one of the lucky generation to be able to enjoy the prosperity of the golden age of America His humorous tales of Kid World adds delight to his memoriesEnjoy

  9. Tom Carrico Tom Carrico says:

    Book ReviewThe Life and Times of the Thunderbolt KidBy Bill BrysonReviewed by Tom CarricoI am not usually one to enjoy a memoir There always seems to be a certain smugness that someone must possess to have the audacity to think that their story is better than well mine This memoir however is different Bill Bryson’s childhood ruminations could belong to anybody who grew up in the 1950s Change Des Moines Iowa to Arlington Virginia and this story could even be mine If you are under 40 you probably won’t enjoy this book as much as those of us who actually endured this particular decade This book reads like a “Saturday Night Live” send up of David Halberstam’s The Fifties Like Halberstam Bryson touches on the many social and cultural events and changes of the 1950s including the space race the development of the nuclear bomb the evolution of the suburbs coupled with the decline of the inner cities and the emergence of television This author however takes great pride in pointing out the absurdities and ironic inconsistencies of that era He describes his refusal to participate in the reuired civil defense drills pointing out to his elementary school teacher the absolute irrationality of thinking that crawling under a desk could protect a child from a nuclear explosion I remember thinking these same thoughts as I toted bottled water and canned goods to St Ann’s School in Arlington which happened to be three miles from the Pentagon Unlike Bill Bryson I did get under the desk when told to I feared for my life not from an A bomb but from the wrath of Sister Mary Angelus The author was able to jog my feeble memory about certain items which are long gone In one hilarious segment he describes the cumbersome winter boots we all had Bill Bryson claims that the clasps which reuired an incredible dexterity to fasten were actually made from razor blades He is eually as funny when describing how kids passed their time during the fifties He explains that parents would kick the kids outdoors in the early morning and not expect to see them again until dinner time The ridiculous toys of the era are recalled in great detail The authors favorites were Lincoln Logs where the box shows all of these great forts and structures and the contents are only enough to construct a small hut with one window erector sets and electric football It is hard to imagine in this day of Xbox and Playstation that electric football ever existed I actually had two of these sets one a hand me down from my cousin Mike The author wryly and accurately describes setting up the players on the metal “field” and turning on the electricity which caused the field to vibrate and all of the plastic players to fall over or migrate towards the wrong goal line There is also an awesome description of the complete disaster which was constructing plastic model airplane kitsThe name of the book comes from the author’s fascination with comic book heroes He constructed his own alter ego and named him Thunderbolt Kid He imagined his super powers and practiced making teachers and principals disappearThe greatest segments of Thunderbolt are when Bill Bryson recalls the early days of television He muses over the physical differences between the comic book Superman and the flabby television version He fondly recalls the Sky King show and how Sky would fly around endlessly in his airplane for no particular reason and his crush on Sky’s niece Penny Tell the truth didn’t we all have a crush on Penny? He also points out that television cowboys in the 50s never really shot anybody They shot AT people for sure but usually just shot guns out of the bad guys’ hands or shot their hats off Yes it was a different era The television anecdote that evoked the most vivid memory for me was his description of how Walt Disney used his television show to make every kid in America dream of going to Disneyland in Anaheim For you youngsters this was when Orlando was still a backwater town and Disney World didn’t exist Bill Bryson’s family finally went and by golly so did mine My sister and her husband moved to California in the sixties and I remember going to visit them and getting to go to Disneyland I was about twelve or thirteen I guess and I remember standing on Main Street and looking at Cinderella’s Castle in absolute awe They gave you a book of coupons on admission in those days when you paid to get in The coupons had different values and colors and the E coupons were the good ones for the Matterhorn ride and Space Mountain I remember not wanting to use the last E coupon because then it would be time to leaveThere are some serious moments here as well Mr Bryson notes that with the passage of time the family farm has basically disappeared from the American landscape He also regrets the loss of the supreme optimism and sense of innocence which pervaded America in the 1950s This is a must read for anyone born before 1955 For you youngsters this book may help you understand why we boomers are as odd as we are One warning though there are segments that are so funny you want to stop and tell everyone around you about them The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson is available in trade paperback from Broadway Books publishers

  10. J.K. Grice J.K. Grice says:

    This was a hilarious memoir from Bill Bryson I grew up in Iowa too so it made the book even a little better Highly recommended

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