Bill Bryson's hilarious memoir of growing up in middle America in the Fifties, complete, unabridged, and read by the author.
Born in 1951 in the middle of the United States, Des Moines, Iowa, Bill Bryson is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24 carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generation, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around the house wearing a jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel round his neck that served as his cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing evildoers (in his head) as The Thunderbolt Kid.
Using his old fantasy life as a springboard, Bill Bryson recreates the life of his family in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality. In a period that saw the inexorable rise of television, the opening of Disneyland, the testing of the atomic bomb, and the explosion of choice in everything from food to cars, Bill Bryson's days followed in reassuringly cosy succession, enlivened by modest triumphs and disasters.
Warm and laugh-out-loud funny, The Thunderbolt Kid is full of Bill Bryson's inimitable, pitch-perfect observations and this unabridged recording contains every single amusing anecdote and amazing fact. Nothing is left out, so you can enjoy the whole book in its entirety, read by Bill Bryson himself.
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"The way he tells it, to be a child in 1950s Middle America was very heaven... His own happy scrapes and triumphs (mostly scrapes) contain a good few laugh-out-loud moments, but with trademark modesty he conjures an entire era, ' the ancient lost world of the mid-20th-century.'" (The Sunday Times, Audio book of the week)
"[Bryson's] rendering of what has been widely billed as an indulgent nostalgic revisiting of his childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, brings out the extent to which it is much more subtle. Bryson's voice veers from childish enthusiasm for stripping off to inspect the orifices of five-year-old chums in the "kiddy corral" or nicking liquorice "nigger babies" from sweet shops to deadpan summaries of such news stories as picnics to watch the atomic bomb tests or rampant McCarthyism exerting its vendettas against Jewish intellectuals.
A child splitting account of teenage beer heists turns sombre in the final chapter, when we hear that the boy who took the rap for the group because his parents were too highminded and poor to get him off took 25 years to recover from drink and drugs problems induced by two years in the state penitentiary.
Laugh-aloud funny as little Bill is, this is a tart reminder that the never-had-it-so-good decade of the 1950s laid the ground for the ills of modern America." (Christina Hardyment, The Times)
"Considerable added value as it is read unabridged by its author, Bill Byson." (The Times)
Yes, even us Senior Citizens join fan clubs, or the modern equivalent thereof, which is now registering on an author's website in order to receive newsletters, etc. Bill Bryson's website is the only one I have joined as to date I have enjoyed his books so much, but now I shall be cancelling my enrolment.
I hope, however, to enjoy reading and maybe even listening to, future books by this author but not those which he chooses to read himself. Before purchasing this particular title, I had listened to many Bill Bryson audio books, all read by William Roberts. I just wish this one had been read by him as well.
In choosing to read his own work (or being encouraged to do so by his publishers) Bill Bryson has, I believe, made a cardinal error. His intonation and delivery rushes along in a manner which I think is difficult for those with an 'English' ear, i.e. one used to more word stress, to listen to comfortably. Some may describe Bryson's reading style as 'racy'. I wouldn't: it's poor. His reading left me wondering why this title is invariably in Audible's best seller list. I'll just have to buy a hard copy of the book and read it for myself as I'm sure it's cleverly and expertly written as Bill Bryson's books usually are. But I can't judge it on the basis of this disappointing presentation.
I've just spent several happy hours with a stupid grin on my face, not to mention laughing out loud (and I'm not the sort of person to laugh out loud), listening to this genuinely funny narration. Bill Bryson has a wonderful way with words - both the way he's written this and the way he's narrated it - and you don't have to be a child of the fifties to enjoy this story about childhood and 'why grown-ups are not to be trusted'. This is quite the best thing I've listened to so far in my 16 months of membership and I just didn't want it to end, so now I'm off to download some more Bryson titles...
I agree with Elizabeth. I was surprised that such an unassuming man like Bill Bryson should have chosen to narrate this audio book. If he was persuaded by others then they were wrong. A narrator can make or break an audio book and bryson's nervous manner didn't add anything. I remember Stephen King saying it is unwise for authors to narrate their own books when trained actors can do a far better job. This was the case here. Having said all that I still liked it and look forward to more of Bryson's work. PS Note to the publishers. If you decide to ask William Roberts to narrate this book I will buy it despite already owning this one.
I have every book published by Bill Bryston, and was eagerly waiting for his latest masterpiece. While it is interesting to learn about my favourite author's boyhood pranks, it's not nearly as witty and funny as his previous books. Put it this way, I didn't get the usual funny looks or people swapping places away from me on the train due to uncontrollable snorts of laughter.
This book is awesome Bryson. His gentle but really belly laugh humour are at their best here. If A Short History of Nearly Everything is not your bag then make this your first stop on route Bryson. It will have you hooked.
This audiobook was a delight to listen to on my commute. It was a pleasure to hear Bill's childhood anecdotes being relayed by the author himself, and really was laugh out loud funny in parts. Highly recommended!
Although being a fan of Mr Bryson, I stupidly deferred reading this book as I thought it would be something I couldn't relate too i.e. too American and an era before my time. However I finally relented and discovered I had made a big mistake. I can easily relate to the lost childhood and nostalgic sentiments he makes (as we all will of a certain age). This booking is two quarters hilarious (glad to see Catts ‘back’ on form), a quarter sad and a quarter factual. I was really sad to finish listening to it.
I strongly recommend this book to both fans of Bill Bryson and as a first time reader.
Laugh out loud funny, an intensly enjoyable listen, brilliant. How does Bill Bryson do it, just a man with a great sense of humour and a wonderful way of putting on paper or into your ears.
Firstly, I can't overemphasise how much I enjoy Bryson's narration over William Roberts'. Perhaps the most compelling evidence is that I actually bought his abridged version of a Short History, even though I owned and had twice listened to the unabridged one simply because I wanted to hear Bill Bryson reading it.
It's really surprising to hear other people haven't enjoyed his narration, because I think his delivery is perfect although, it must be said, he does speak in a low tone.
I had always avoided the more anecdotal Bryson novels over the more factual ones, feeling that novels like a Short History and Private Life were more nourishing. A Walk in the Woods changed my mind on that, so I bought this and enjoyed it so much that I think it could be my favourite Bryson audiobook.
I guess the chances are slim that Bill will narrate an unabridged version of a Short History, but if he does, then I'll find myself with three copies of that damn book....
I think everybody has their own favorite Bryson book and this one for me is one of my favorites.
A few people have complained about Bryson as the narrator on this but I actually think he does a good job with.
Even though my childhood was a good 25 years after Bryson, there are some fantastic nostalgic moments in this book that remind me of my own childhood, but the thing I like about this book the most is this is punctuated right the way through the book with some hilarious sub-story's which litterly make you laugh out loud, no matter where you are!
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