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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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  •  
    Jayne S 03-17-15
    Jayne S 03-17-15 Member Since 2013
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    "A fun listen."

    As a child in the sixties I remember southern California having much character and uniqueness from town to town and city to city.
    It was fun to hear about Iowa and Bill's childhood. This book chronicles the simplicity yet richness of the fifties and sixties in the USA!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Goran 12-10-14
    Goran 12-10-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Typical Bill"

    Bill Bryson could be the best thing that has happened to literature in my lifetime. Whatever he writes, you are guaranteed to have a laugh while also learning something new. This book is no different. It is funny, informative, and of course nostalgic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy 11-11-14
    Judy 11-11-14 Member Since 2012
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    "I love Bill Bryson"

    This is a delightful listen. I enjoy Bryson's narration and the book is so funny. I highly recommend this book. I'm afraid it has given me a glimpse of what I'm in for in raising a boy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Clementon, NJ, United States 06-11-14
    Shawn Clementon, NJ, United States 06-11-14 Member Since 2014
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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 long daily commute which is mitigated somewhat 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

    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
  •  
    Elizabeth P. Ross South Carolina 02-07-13
    Elizabeth P. Ross South Carolina 02-07-13 Member Since 2015

    Mama Lizzy

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    "Funny"
    Would you listen to The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid again? Why?

    A friend recommended this book. I enjoyed the family craziness because I grew up in a similarly strange family. I could relate to much of the humor.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Davenport, IA, United States 08-13-12
    Michael Davenport, IA, United States 08-13-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Wonderful story and very funny."
    What did you love best about The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid?

    I too grew up in the 1950s and 1960s and could relate a lot to the experiences Mr. Bryson had. Very funny family experiences and a sense of loss of those simpler times as a child in that era.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Bill Bryson and his ability of storytelling.


    Which character – as performed by Bill Bryson – was your favorite?

    Milton Milton or Katz.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eli New York 08-03-12
    Eli New York 08-03-12 Member Since 2001
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    "One of Bryson's best yet"

    This book was laugh out loud material. Most authors don't their book justice by narrating it themselves. Bryson's wonderfully cynical humor comes alive and almost makes me wish to have grown up in the 1950's Des Moine. Out of the several hundred audio books I own, this is in my all time favorite list.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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