Genre: Memoir & Biography
Published: 1 September 2006
Publisher: Doubleday

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

by Bill Bryson


Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the 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, he is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of his 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 neighbourhood with a 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 – in his head – as “The Thunderbolt Kid.”

Using his old fantasy-life persona as a springboard, Bill Bryson recreates the life of his family in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality – a life 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 Bill’s inimitable, pitch-perfect observations, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE THUNDERBOLT KID promises to be as wondrous a book as Bill Bryson has ever written.

"A wittily incisive book about innocence, and its limits, but in no sense an innocent book... Like Alan Bennett, another ironist posing as a sentimentalist, Bryson can play the teddy-bear and then deliver a sudden, grizzly-style swipe... might tell us as much about the oddities of the American way as a dozen think-tanks" - Boyd Tonkin, Independent
"A funny, effortlessly readable, quietly enchanted memoir... Bryson also provides a quirky social history of America... he always manages to slam on the brakes with a good joke just when things might get sentimental" - Daily Mail
"Characteristic mixture of bemused wit, acerbic astonishment and sweet benevolence... Evocation of an era is near perfect: tender, hilarious and true" - The Times
"Outlandishly and improbably entertaining... inevitably [I] would be reduced to body-racking, tear-inducing, de-couching laughter" - The New York Times
"Seriously funny" - The Sunday Times