The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid [Audio]
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Read by Bill Bryson himself!

About the Author

Bill Bryson's bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent and Notes from a Small Island, which in a national poll was voted the book that best represents Britain. Another travel book, A Walk in the Woods, has become a major film starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson. His new number one Sunday Times bestseller is The Road to Little Dribbling- More Notes from a Small Island. His acclaimed book on the history of science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Royal Society's Aventis Prize as well as the Descartes Prize, the European Union's highest literary award. He has written books on language, on Shakespeare, on history, and on his own childhood in the hilarious memoir The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. His last critically lauded bestsellers were At Home- a Short History of Private Life, and One Summer- America 1927 Bill Bryson was born in the American Midwest, and now lives in the UK. A former Chancellor of Durham University, he was President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England for five years, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society. Bill Bryson was born in 1951 in Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up there, but spent most of his adult life in Britain. He worked for the Bournemouth Evening Echo, Financial Weekly and The Times, and was one of the founding journalists on the Independent. His books include Mother Tongue and Troublesome Words (revised edition, 2001), both published by Penguin, and the travel books The Lost Continent, Neither Here Nor There, Notes from a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods, Notes from a Big Country and Down Under. He now lives in the United States with his wife and four children.

Reviews

For most of his adult life, Bryson has made his home in the U.K, yet he actually entered the world in 1951 as part of America's postwar baby boom and spent his formative years in Des Moines, Iowa. Bryson wistfully recounts a childhood of innocence and optimism, a magical point in time when a distinct sense of regional and community identity briefly-but blissfully-coexisted with fledgling technology and modern convenience. Narrating, Bryson skillfully wields his amorphous accent-somehow neither fully British nor Midwestern-to project a genial and entertaining tour guide of lost Americana. In portraying the boyish exploits of his "Thunderbolt Kid" superhero alter ego, he convincingly evokes both the unadulterated joys and everyday battles of childhood. As an added bonus, the final CD features an interview with Bryson in which he reflects on the process of writing his autobiography and discussing the broader social and cultural insights that he gleaned from the experience. Simultaneous release with the Broadway hardcover (Reviews, July 10). (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"I can't imagine there has ever been a more gratifying time or place to be alive than America in the 1950s," writes Bryson (A Walk in the Woods), and his wryly amusing stories of his childhood in Des Moines almost convince the reader this is true. Bryson recounts the world of his younger self, buried in comic books in the Kiddie Corral at the local supermarket, resisting civil defense drills at school, and fruitlessly trying to unravel the mysteries of sex. His alter ego, the Thunderbolt Kid, born of his love for comic-book superheroes and the need to vaporize irritating people, serves as an astute outside observer of life around him. His family's foibles are humorously presented, from his mother's burnt, bland cooking to his father's epic cheapness. The larger world of 1950s America emerges through the lens of "Billy's" world, including the dark underbelly of racism, the fight against communism, and the advent of the nuclear age. Recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/06.]-Alison M. Lewis, Drexel Univ. Lib., Philadelphia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-The Thunderbolt Kid was "born" in the 1950s when six-year-old Bryson found a mysterious, scratchy green sweater with a satiny thunderbolt across the chest. The jersey bestowed magic powers on the wearer-X-ray vision and the power to zap teachers and babysitters and deflect unwanted kisses from old people. These are the memoirs of that Kid, whose earthly parents were not really half bad-a loving mother who didn't cook and was pathologically forgetful, but shared her love of movies with her youngest child, and a dad who was the "greatest baseball writer that ever lived" and took his son to dugouts and into clubhouses where he met such famous players as Stan Musial and Willie Mays. Simpler times are conveyed with exaggerated humor; the author recalls the middle of the last century in the middle of the country (Des Moines, IA), when cigarettes were good for you, waxy candies were considered delicious, and kids were taught to read with Dick and Jane. Students of the decade's popular culture will marvel at the insular innocence described, even as the world moved toward nuclear weapons and civil unrest. Bryson describes country fairs and fantastic ploys to maneuver into the tent to see the lady stripper, playing hookey, paper routes, church suppers, and more. His reminiscences will entertain a wide audience.-Jackie Gropman, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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