I can’t believe I’ve never read Bill Bryson before, especially considering how much I love other humorists his age, like Dave Barry. Bryson has a very similar style of writing, very funny and a hyperbolic way. But I’m definitely a fan now.
“It wasn’t that my mother and father were indifferent to their children’s physical well-being by any means. It was just that they seemed to believe that everything would be fine in the end and they were always right.”
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid describes Bryson’s childhood growing up in Des Moines in the nineteen-fifties. He tells stories about his crazy family, his forgetful mother in particular…
“It’s a bit burned,” my mother would say apologetically at every meal, presenting you with a piece of meat that looked like something — a much-loved pet perhaps — salvaged from a tragic house fire. “But I think I scraped off most of the burned part,” she would add, overlooking that this included every bit of it that had once been flesh.
…and the kids he played with in the neighborhood. It’s very funny, especially the sarcastic bits, and while I feel like he glossed over some of the not-so-nice parts of the 1950s he does make references occasionally to race issues and other inequalities of the day. Mostly though it’s a fun look at a time when the country was booming and kids could spend 12 hours a day outside riding their bicycles.