Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

In my post about the Audiobook I mentioned that The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

was my first audiobook. For this review I'll talk a little bit about the book itself and then I'll talk about the actual audiobook. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is a memoir about Bill Bryson's childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, during the 1950's. It's about Des Moines, but not just about Des Moines. It's about a time when moms stayed at home and made meals out of magazines, kids could ride their bikes downtown without parental supervision, and all the restaurants you went to were locally owned. Basically it's about a world that doesn't exist today, and maybe about a world that never really did exist in real life.

A disclaimer, I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, too, although I grew up in the 1990's. Because of that I enjoyed this book a lot. It was insane for me to hear about all the restaurants and stores that used to exist in Des Moines and are no longer there. Des Moines has changed a lot even in my lifetime. The East Village used to be a really dumpy somewhat terrifying area, and now it has tons of hip boutiques and ethnic restaurants. I worked in the East Village this summer and I never ran into a pan handler, which used to be unheard of. Some of the things he talks about I knew existed at one point, or they closed during my lifetime, but most of these things I'd never heard of, never thought of, never seen. Bryson talks about how Des Moines used to be, and how America used to be, this wholesome, local business thing. And while he was a part of that, he was also a bit of an outsider. Both of his parents worked, which was unusual for Des Moines at the time, and they both worked as newspaper writers, which was a different career than most people in Des Moines had at the time. Because of this I think he can give a unique perspective on that world and how people, or even how he himself, reacted to his family.

The audiobook itself is wonderful. It's narrated by Bill Bryson who is obviously from Iowa so he says very Iowan things, like warsh instead of wash, but he's lived in England for quite awhile and so he has a bit of a British accent as well. He is a great reader and has great delivery with his jokes. I listened to this audiobook while walking or driving and I caught myself getting stared at because I was laughing hysterically at what he was saying. It feels a lot more like he is telling you about his life than reading a book he wrote to you.

I give this audiobook an A.

I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you make a purchase using one of my links I will earn a small percentage which will then go back into this blog.

audiobooks, book review, LIFE, memoir, and more:

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid + TIME