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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid | [Bill Bryson]

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century, 1951, in the middle of the United States, Des Moines, Iowa, in the middle of the largest generation in American history, the baby boomers. As one of the best and funniest writers alive, his is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero.
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Publisher's Summary

Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century, 1951, in the middle of the United States, Des Moines, Iowa, in the middle of the largest generation in American history, the baby boomers. As one of the best and funniest writers alive, his is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around his house and neighborhood in an old football jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel about his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing awful evildoers (and morons) in his head as "The Thunderbolt Kid".

Using this persona as a springboard, Bryson recreates the life of his family and his native city in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality, at once completely familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy. Warm and laugh-out-loud funny, and full of his inimitable, pitch-perfect observations, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is as wondrous an audiobook as Bill Bryson has ever recorded. It will enchant anyone who has ever been young.

©2006 Bill Bryson; (P)2006 Random House, inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This affectionate portrait wistfully recalls the bygone days of Burns and Allen and downtown department stores, but with a good-natured elbow poke to the ribs." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    KMH 11-12-06
    KMH 11-12-06 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just ok, not up to par"

    This audio book has a few moments of good laughs and funny anecdotes but simple stated this book is not as good as his other works. If you are looking for something like “A walk in the Woods” or “In a Sunburned Country” this is not it.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry A. Austin Temple, TX United States 05-21-07
    Terry A. Austin Temple, TX United States 05-21-07 Member Since 2000
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    "Classic Bryson"

    Bill's travels have always been a favorite of mine. This one takes us on a journey back in time to a happier, more innocent, yet just a bit more twisted - childhood in a time where our own kids would be lost without the beep-beep of electronic toys. Thank you, Bill for some wonderful memories, and some of your exceptional belly-laughs! Keep 'em coming!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teacher Lady Midwest 11-26-06
    Teacher Lady Midwest 11-26-06 Member Since 2005
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    "A Boomer Must-listen"

    Nobody can write like Bill Bryson, and nobody can read Bryson like Bryson. Anyone born in the late 40's through the mid-50's must get this title. I laughed, I cried, and I loved every minute of it. I am getting the print book for my siblings and siblings-in-law who grew up in the 50's. I only regret that all of Bryson's books are not available in unabridged format, read by the author.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Horseshoe Bay, TX, United States 11-16-06
    Richard Horseshoe Bay, TX, United States 11-16-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Remember when"

    for anyone growing up in the 50's and 60's this is a must read... true humor... reality... a superb read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eva Alamogordo, NM, USA 08-16-09
    Eva Alamogordo, NM, USA 08-16-09
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    "Very, vary funny!!!! Very very true!!!"

    I have been a big fan of Bill Bryson but this book is his best! He had me Laughing the entire book. I grew up in the sixties but alot of the things he talked about related to me too. It brought back many of my child hood memories. Hes right too. Things were so inicent then.They will never be the same. I agree with him that the food wasn't too great either! No matter whose mother was cooking it! I can't beleive I loved TV dinners then! Bryson is my super hero auther!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Clementon, NJ, United States 06-11-14
    Shawn Clementon, NJ, United States 06-11-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Great Casual Listen"
    Would you listen to The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid again? Why?

    Yes, its got a charm to it.


    Any additional comments?

    If you have a dry sense of humor I would suggest a listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen WORCESTER, MA, United States 05-09-14
    Stephen WORCESTER, MA, United States 05-09-14 Member Since 2014

    Persnickety, curmudgeonly, locked into a lock daily commute which is mitigated by listening to great books.

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    "What Kind of Accent is That?"
    Where does The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Around the middle


    What did you like best about this story?

    Brings back things from my childhood - some by direct reference and others just remind me of similar things in my past.

    Bryson also uses language effectively. He balances literary style with the humor of more common speech. I really like that mix.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    In Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid Bryson (reader and author) tells the story of his childhood in Des Moines, Iowa. Being from the midwest myself, and having spent a good deal of time in Iowa with Iowans I find myself really put off by Bryson's accent. That is not any kind of Iowa or even midwest-US accent. I wouldn't remark on it, except that A) it is an audiobook, B) the book has everything to do with the author/reader being from Iowa, C) Bryson is in his 60's, so one would think that he would have been exposed to more Iowa accent than a younger person.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Norris Gainesville, VA 03-19-14
    C. Norris Gainesville, VA 03-19-14 Member Since 2014

    afishionado

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    "The 1950's all over again"
    If you could sum up The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid in three words, what would they be?

    Small Town Remembrances


    What did you like best about this story?

    The great storytelling and the vibrant way he brings growing up in small town, middle America to life in the 1950s.


    What does Bill Bryson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Since this is his life and his experience, having him deliver the story brought a certain passion and depth to the story that just reading it might miss.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Bill talks about his dad, the Des Moines Register sportswriter, and his unique ability to be at the right place at the right time and to tell wonderful sports history stories. These are stories that were bigger than life in the 50s, and often Bill was taken along for the trip with his dad - given the chance to "be there" and to meet legends of baseball.


    Any additional comments?

    Growing up during this time brought up feelings of nostalgia as well as brought things to memory we have not thought about for years. Bill has a keen eye for observation, and wonderful ability with language, and an ability to find the humor in many situations. Whether this would hit the same reaction in someone who has not grown up nor experienced mid-west America in this era, I don't know. It certainly was a wonderful trip down memory lane for us.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audrey INDIAN LAKE, NY, United States 09-18-13
    Audrey INDIAN LAKE, NY, United States 09-18-13 Listener Since 2010
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    "One of the best books I've listened too!"
    Have you listened to any of Bill Bryson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have all of Bill Bryson's works, but this is the best one so far. The other ones are good listens as well. He does such a good job with history, but this is his childhood in the 1950's (which is when I was born and can relate) It's done with a good sense of humor which left me anxious to get back to the book!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer rochester, NY, United States 02-19-13
    Amazon Customer rochester, NY, United States 02-19-13 Member Since 2012
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    "funny, nostalgic, and wonderful"
    Where does The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of my favorites


    What does Bill Bryson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His skill as a narrator is superlative


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yed


    Any additional comments?

    Bill Bryson is certainly a favorite of mine, and like everything else he writes, this book is full of information, and great fun to read. Mr. Bryson remains a voice of graciousness and intelligent civility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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