Bill Bryson, humorist and lover of history, science and all kinds of interesting trivia, has long been one of my favorite authors. Ever since I picked up his very funny hiking adventure, A Walk in the Woods, I’ve been hooked. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is Bryson’s childhood memoir. He grew up during the 50’s in Des Moines, Iowa, and that reminded me a lot of my own childhood. Most of the book consists of normal, but very funny, memories of growing up:
“The makers of sneakers also thoughtfully pocked the soles with numberless crevices, craters, chevrons, mazes, crop circles, and other rubbery hieroglyphs, so that when you stepped in a moist pile of dog shit, as you most assuredly did within three bounds of leaving the house, they provided additional absorbing hours of pastime while you cleaned them out with a stick, gagging quietly but oddly content.”
Occasionally, Bryson throws in his two cents about our society, political landscape, etc., but it’s subtle enough and witty enough not to offend you…much. Since the book deals with childhood in the Midwest, I was surprised by Bryson’s use of profanity. It didn’t seem to fit here. I would have loved to recommend it to my teenaged sons, but those few “f” words made up my mind for me. At any rate, I will say this book is hilarious. I laughed so hard, so many times, that my children came running to see if I was alright. It just goes to show you that a few burnt meals, and the inadvertent wearing of lime green capri pants doesn’t hold you back – at least as far as this terrific author is concerned.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2006