Asian Writers

June is dedicated to authors with ASIAN of books in this category will be posted all month....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, The

Rating - * *

Funny in a mundane way. The name of the book is misleading – there is very little travel [most of it is in Bryson’s head] and the thunderbolt kid makes erratic appearances at the start and then disappears altogether.

A book that I should have skipped and spent my money elsewhere [sigh].

What is the book about

The book is a walk down memory lane by author Bill Bryson around 1950’s in which he talks about events – important, not so important and some totally irrelevant – during his childhood years - Events that occur with respect to him or events from his perspective that transpired in America. He covers a multitude of topics – from farming, war, communism, comics, sex, television etc – devoting chapters to each one of them and most of them ending on a sobering note on how things have changed since then, and the loss of the ‘good and old’ days when life was easy, fun and people were happy.

What I liked about the book

The fact that Bryson manages to transform the mundane into a humorous, engaging narrative that apparently won him some great reviews, does speak of his creative abilities [even if its wasted]. There is also insight into America of the 50’s which is informative, but not necessarily important. The book was also successful in transporting me to my own childhood days [whatever little I remember of it] and that is always a joy and any author that can do that to me does deserve a pat [albeit a small one].

What I didn’t like about the book

It’s not a book that you can classify as either Like or Don’t Like. It lies in the middle [much like Des Moines as Bryson writes in his book which he branded as ‘middling’] just like his writing – which is average and so is the humor. Don’t get me wrong – the writing is going to make you break into those snort laughs, but then there is nothing spectacular about it.

The one thing that made be incredulous [and to a certain extent irritated as well] is that even though Bill Bryson is no celebrity, President of any country, Top 100 most influential person in the Times list blah blah – yet he has the gall to write a book [this was his second book!] about himself comes across as very narcissist. I mean who, really who on this planet wants to know about Bill Bryson and his childhood and the fact that he spent most of his years holed up in front of the TV while devouring books or being chased by a dog, or spitting or being spat upon by drool!!

And the fact that a 4-year old can remember so much and that too in such great detail or that a 12- year old can have an opinion, any opinion for that matter, about nuclear war, communism and all such adult subjects is a bit too much to swallow.


  1. Good post and your reviews about books are classy.To be true i never heard names of book you reviewed.Want to read this book cos i liked its name.....

    1. Thank you Ambar! :-)
      Even I have come to know about books either through other friends or through recommendations from sites like Good Reads.
      You should read Bill Bryson's books, he is one of a kind.