Category: Non-fiction (Memoir)
Synopsis: Bill Bryson tells of growing up in the 1950s and 60s in Des Moines, Iowa while also looking at America at the time.
My Thoughts: I have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed with this book. I loved A Walk in the Woods and perhaps I had to high expectations. My problem with this book lay primarily in the fact that it at times felt repetitive. It also takes quite some time until we find out WHY it is called The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid. That said, it was a perfectly pleasant read and a couple of the chapters and incidents that really captured me.
The first chapter that caught my attention was the one titled Boom! In it Bryson discusses the Red Scare and how it came about. In parts it felt like he was describing today with people being stopped at borders because they looked wrong or their passport might be suspicious. The fear and suspicion then feels eerily similar to the fear and suspicion that seems to exist in our society today. Makes me wonder if we ever learn anything.
The other thing that caused some connect with me was the similarities between Brysons stories of his childhood and the stories my dad tells of his. My dad is three years younger than Bryson and grew up in Philly. He occasionally tells stories of him and his friend roaming free in much the same way as Bryson and his friends did. They knew all the local cops (who used to bring them home in the evenings on a fairly regular basis, not for being in trouble but to stop them from getting into trouble). This connection made the book feel a bit more alive to me.
The final thing that kept me reading the book was one of the aspects that made me love A Walk in the Woods: the way Bryson manages to mix facts with the personal. Bryson through facts and figures lends a certain amount of authority to the deeply personal stories he tells and this makes the book feel very alive. So…Although I doubt I will read this book again it hasn’t put me off Bryson, I have a bunch more of his book lined up.
I purchased my copy from Myrorna the Charity shop run by The Salvation Army here in Sweden.