Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

This author has been in my sights for years, heard he was funny, but -meh- I'm pretty jaded, so I never got further than reading the back cover. A couple of weeks ago I got my hands on a copy of his memoir and figured, after all the heavy stuff I've been reading, it was time for something light.

If you were a child in the 50s and 60s -or in my case, the 70s- The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is more than light; it's a laugh-out-loud funny collection of youthful observations. Bryson captures the essence of childhood itself, with all its imagination and shenanigans, during a time when life just seemed less complicated.

"For its first couple of blocks, Des Moines had a slight but agreeably seedy air. Here there were dark bars, small hotels of doubtful repute, dingy offices, and shops that sold odd things like rubber stamps and trusses. I liked this area very much. There was always a chance of hearing a bitter argument through an upstairs window and the hope that this would lead to gunfire and someone falling out of the window onto an awning, as in the better Hollywood movies, or at least staggering out a door, hand on bloodied chest, and collapsing in the street." p55

"The men's room in the downtown theaters were huge, and soothingly lit, and quite splendidly classy. They had good full-length mirrors, so you could practice gunslinger draws, and there were several machines -comb machines, condom machines- that you could almost get your arm up. There was a long line of toilet cubicles and they all had those dividers that allowed you to see the feet of people in flanking cubicles, which I never understood and indeed still don't. . . As a kind of signature gesture, I would go to the far left-hand stall and lock the door, then crawl under the divider into the next stall and lock it, and so on down the line until I had locked them all. It always gave me a strange sense of achievement." p58


Janna said...

Thanks for the post! I haven't even heard of this one.

I love Bryon's style. Just added this to my TBR list.

Trish said...

So far this book is my favorite of his. I think you'll really like it too . . .