From one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the
English language, a vivid, nostalgic and utterly hilarious memoir of
growing up in the middle of the United States in the middle of the last
century. A book that delivers on the promise that it is laugh-out-loud
Some say that the first hints that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came from his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of peoples hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman.
Bill Brysons first travel book opened with the immortal line, I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to. In this hilarious new memoir, he travels back to explore the kid he once was and the weird and wonderful world of 1950s America. He modestly claims that this is a book about not very much: about being small and getting much larger slowly. But for the rest of us, it is a laugh-out-loud book that will speak volumes especially to anyone who has ever been young.
The only downside of my mothers
working was that it put a little pressure on her with regard to running
the home and particularly with regard to dinner, which frankly was not
her strong suit anyway. My mother always ran late and was dangerously
forgetful into the bargain. You soon learned to stand aside about ten
to six every evening, for it was then that she would fly in the back
door, throw something in the oven, and disappear into some other
quarter of the house to embark on the thousand other household tasks
that greeted her each evening. In consequence she nearly always forgot
about dinner until a point slightly beyond way too late. As a
rule you knew it was time to eat when you could hear baked potatoes
exploding in the oven.
We didnt call it the kitchen in our house. We called it the Burns Unit.
Its a bit burned, my mother would say apologetically at every meal, presenting you with a piece of meat that ...
Part memoir, part social history, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is a hoot. Bryson describes his idyllic childhood growing up in the middle of the USA, in the middle of the last century, in the middle of the baby boom years - a time of unprecedented prosperity for the country as a whole, quite different to the depression-era experiences of the previous generation; but it's not all rose-tinted glasses - the threat of nuclear war, Joe McCarthy, and America flexing its muscles overseas all come into the picture.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (976 words).
Elsewhere in the 1950s.
While many in the USA experienced an unprecedented economic boom in the 1950s, what was happening elsewhere?
Europe: The division of Europe into West and East persisted. The foundations for the European Community were laid. Rationing continued in some Western countries (e.g. in Britain up until 1953), but post-war reconstruction was booming, due to the Marshall Plan (a four year plan instigated in 1947 during which about $13 billion of economic and technical assistance was given by the USA to certain European countries. At the end of the four years, the economies of every participating country except Germany had exceeded their pre-war levels.
The Middle East: The increasing importance of oil...
If you liked The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, try these:
This witty and lovingly told memoir takes readers back to a time when small-town America was caught in the amber of the innocent postwar period--people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards.
A memoir of culture and history of fathers and daughters, of two world wars and the passionate rebellions of the sixties. It is also about the mythology of place and the evolution of a sensibility: and about how literature can shape and even anticipate a life.
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