Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

I was enthralled by Bryson's earliest books about the English language, The Mother Tongue and Made in America. I read and re-read them and still turn to them. Then he broke through with his books about travel and he became a huge star. People were devouring Notes From a Small Island and A Walk in the Woods but they left me cold. To me, they were cranky and not much fun and I gave up on him. Fortunately for Bryson, he didn't need me and the books sold millions of copies and achieved bestseller status.

Thunderbolt Kid, his memoir of growing up in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1950's, strikes just the right balance. It is a personal memoir loaded with historical context, facts and figures and it's funny as hell. It's been years since I've enjoyed his work and it is a welcome return. A perfect vacation read or one of those books you buy because your plane has been delayed indefinitely and you don't have to be a baby boomer to "get" it.
Had I the time, I'm sure this could have been read in one sitting. Out in paperback, this is worth your time if you like memoirs or the author.

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