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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir

Unabridged Audio Book

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Bill Bryson

7 Hours 30 Minutes

Random House (Audio)

October 2006

Audio Book Summary

BONUS FEATURE: Exclusive interview with the author.

From one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the English language, a vivid, nostalgic and utterly hilarious memoir of growing up in the middle of the United States in the middle of the last century. A book that delivers on the promise that it is “laugh-out-loud funny.”

Some say that the first hints that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came from his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people’s hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman.

Bill Bryson’s first travel book opened with the immortal line, “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.” In this hilarious new memoir, he travels back to explore the kid he once was and the weird and wonderful world of 1950s America. He modestly claims that this is a book about not very much: about being small and getting much larger slowly. But for the rest of us, it is a laugh-out-loud book that will speak volumes – especially to anyone who has ever been young.

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  • Anonymous

    Great book. One of my favorites by Bryson. Love the way he narrates too!

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  • Kirsten R

    Classics Bryson with the charm of childhood . Funny, warm and informational

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  • Ken S.

    It's as good as Bryson is going to get. His subject is himself as a child growing up in Des Moines in the fifties.

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  • Anonymous

    Love it !! Bill Bryson has a wonderful sense of humor, dry wit & sarcastic fun! I'm from Iowa & enjoyed the memories.

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  • Heleeene

    I also laughed out loud driving around in my car. Although I am female, I had to share some of the pranks and tales with my nephews who, at 5 and 7 years old, heartily enjoyed them! Some of the stories were just too gross, but I loved the story about his mother's toidy jars! I liked the epilogue which put everything in perspective. Bill Bryson is one of my favorite writers! Interesting to listen to him tell the stories with his slight British-accented vowels.

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  • Munroe

    If you were a child in the era that he writes about you will be reminded of so many things that you probably have not thought about in years. I found myself laughing out loud in my car listening to his recollections. Makes you miss the simplicity of life the way it used to be.

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  • Missy

    Absolutely hysterical! I can't say how many times I laughed out loud. I'm sure people in other cars thought I was crazy.

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  • lorin

    Too much rambling and no story line. Disappointed. Read Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories by Shepherd instead. That has some kind of plot.

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  • Michael Cala

    The young Thunderbolt Kid could have been a buddy of Beaver Cleaver's in a Fifties-colored, mythically happy past created by the author (that reminds me a lot of the film, Pleasantville). Bryson's done a good job of conveying how we can fool our own memories, often removing most of the darkness that tries to intrude. With that said, this is a fun book, particularly for those of use who grew up in the 50's-60's, albeit in much darker contexts. The author describes games and candies, food, clothing and social activities of the era that I'd long forgotten, but that brought back pleasant memories. I agree, however, with another reviewer, who lamented the too-few appearances of The Kid. After all, revenge fantasies are such a part of childhood!

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  • Marshel - Pa

    I loved the story and related to many of the games and things that were happening in his life... the electric football game was part of my life too. But when he went into the episodes of political commentary my interest in listen waned.

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