Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bill Bryson - Thunderbolt Kid

Bill Bryson is the Stephen Leacock to America or America's own Mark Twain in modern times. His "Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, A Memoir" is the funniest most enjoyable read I've encountered in years. No wonder it's a National Best Seller. It tells the story of growing up in Des Moines in the 50's. Growing up in Winnipeg in the same era I was over and over again reminded of the cultural gap between then and now.

To quote: "I don't know how they managed it, but people responsible for the 1950's made a world in which pretty much everything was good for you. Drinks before dinner? The more the better! Smoke? You bet! Cigarettes actually made you healthier, by soothing jangly nerves and sharpening jaded minds, according to advertisements. "Just what the doctor ordered!"...........Happily we were indestructible. We didn't need seat belts, air bags, smoke detectors, bottled water, or the heimlich maneuver. We didn't require child safety caps on our medicines. We didn't need helmuts when we rode our bikes or pads for our knees and elbows when we went skating. We knew without a written reminder that bleach was not a refreshing drink and that gasoline when exposed to a match had a tendency to combust......As many as four nuclear detonations a month were conducted in Nevada in the peak years. The mushroom clouds were visible from any parking lot in the city, but most visitors went to the edge of the tests to enjoy the fallout afterwards......What a joy it was to be indestructible."

The book is a non stop trip down a remarkably funny memory lane. Seen from today's perspective through the eyes of Bill Bryson, the 50's of my childhood became a Norman Rockwell painting done with crayons and plastocene. Every sentence was jam packed with nostalgia and humor. I would recommend this book to anyone but the young who would never understand how much they missed! Thank you, Bill Bryson!!

My friend says, "I literally laughed out loud over and over, all alone!"

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