Homer's Travels: Book: Bill Bryson's "The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir"

Monday, February 23, 2009

Book: Bill Bryson's "The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir"

I've read two Bill Bryson books before this one: "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and "A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail".  Both left me disappointed.  Both had their good points but failed to deliver in the end.  I was most disappointed with "A Walk in the Woods" - it had so much promise.  Against my better judgment I decided to give Bryson one more chance.  His last chance was "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir".  

Wow, what a difference.  I loved this book.  This is a little odd.  The Wife, who read it before me, didn't like it as much as I did.  She, on the other hand, enjoyed "A Walk in the Woods" a lot better that I did.  Thinking about this and listening to the Wife's opinion, I've decided that you have to have been, at some time of your life, a little boy to enjoy this memoir.

The book is chock full of little boy stories.  Actually it's one 267 page long little boy story and, being a former little boy myself, I found a lot to appreciate.  As I read the book, my mind constantly wandered back to my early childhood, the better parts of that childhood to boot, leaving me with a fond, nostalgic feeling.  It made me want to go back.  It made me enjoy the book.

I can't say where this connection came from.  Bryson grew up in the small city of Des Moines, IA and I grew up in a small town in Missouri and later in Guatemala City.  He grew up in the 50s and 60s.  I grew up in the 60s and 70s.  Despite these differences and the lack of common experiences, there was an underlying connection that I can only attribute to the little boy-ness of it all.

I highly recommend this book ... to all the former little boys out there. 


  1. yup, back to the 10 year old boy thing again. Opie lives!

  2. Heh, I try to keep that little boy inside alive. :)

  3. Wife: Again, what's wrong with that?

    GH: That's right. We have to keep the little boy alive!

  4. BM: While I understand where you're coming from, the blue verbiage didn't bother me too much.

  5. I've enjoyed all of the Bryson books I've read. I think it's his laid backness that gets me and his sass.

  6. JaG: I guess with Bryson, your mileage may vary.