Sunday, January 6, 2008

"The Thunderbolt Kid" by Bill Bryson

I don't know if I'm supposed to be the prototypical Bryson fan: for one, I'm under thirty, and I imagine that there's supposed to be a generation gap between Boomers and Generation Y. The problem is that he's so damned funny that it's difficult to describe to people what his writing is like. The best comparison that I can think of is the teacher that makes learning about things fun: he tricks you into learning about things. And you laugh out loud, more than once, when you read his books.

The Thunderbolt Kid is about Bryson's childhood in the fifties, and it really makes you realize how absolutely different, how transformed our little world has become in the last hundred years. His perspective allows a backward look with the two room farmhouse where his grandparents lived, the cavernous schoolhouse where he reads Dick and Jane books in elementary school, and the enormous theaters where he attends Saturday matinees. He compares these things to the miracles of technology that are sprouting all around him: the automobile, the atomic bomb, and the television set. You can't help but think about all the things that have come since then that have transformed life even more.

Really, though, Bryson could write about shopping for socks at Wal-Mart and it would probably be worth reading. Really, picking up any of his books is a ticket to a good time.


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