Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson

Genre: Memoir
Published: 2006
Audiobook, 6 cds
Review: 3/5 stars

Even though I considered abandoning this book a few times, I ended up enjoying much of this audiobook. Bill Bryson tells stories of his childhood in the '50s and '60s growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. His memories seem remarkably clear for events that occurred when he was only 5 or 6 years old. It seems like many of these stories must have been exaggerated and enhanced a bit but they do make for pretty funny stuff. I laughed out loud many times.

There's also quite a bit of history including the testing of nuclear weapons, the witch hunts for communists, and the opening of Disneyland. These parts were interesting to some degree but could also get a little lengthy. He always somehow made these tangents applicable to his memories but they could have been a little less detailed.

This was an interesting view of a slice of life in America during the 50's and 60's. There were several laugh-out-loud moments but I didn't care for the spattering of harsh profanity and his sometimes obsessive quest to get his hands on pornography. If it weren't for those things I could recommend this book but, sadly, I can't. Also, if I had been reading this book instead of listening to it I think I probably would have abandoned it. It wasn't really compelling even though it did have some funny parts. I know this review is flip-flopping quite a bit so here are a couple of good reviews if you're interested.
Rating: 3.1.5 Includes several f-bombs.


Tricia said...

This definitely wasn't my favorite Bryson, even though I did find some parts very funny. Thanks for the link love!

: ) Paula said...

I thought "You don't eff with the Thunderbolt Kid" was just weird. Like he came up with the title and had to add a little ditty and a little eff bomb to the ends of the chapters to tie it together. But parts were definitely funny. I agree with you about the lengthy historical details. Yawners.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read this one, but I have read two other Bryson books that I really enjoyed. The first is "I'm a Stranger Here Myself," which is a collection of essays he wrote after returning to the US after twenty years of living in England. Very funny -- lots of laugh out loud moments!

The other is "A Walk in the Woods," which is about his walking of the Appalachian Trail. Also very good.