2013: Two By Bill Bryson

One Summer: America 1927, Bill Bryson

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson

        I've long been a Bill Bryson fan, ever since I read the The Lost Continent in high school (which still makes me laugh out loud to this day).  I like his travel writing, but I love his new writing, where he's basically branched out into "writing about things he finds interesting, in a funny, yet informative way,"  a la At Home: A Short History of Private Life - a book I think about everytime I trip on the stairs, and A Short History of Nearly Everything (the review of which I haven't transferred over yet from my old blog but will soon).  These two - one of which is new, one of which I some just hadn't got to yet - continue the fine tradition of being great fun reads, and I recommend them both!

      One Summer is the new book - it's the story of one summer, the summer of 1927 in which "everything" happened - certainly a lot did.  Lindbergh flew the Atlantic, Babe Ruth set the home run record, the Dempsey-Tunney fight captured the nation.  And Bryson deftly captures these and other more random events - the Ruth Snyder murder case, the man who sat on a flagpole for 13 days, the personality of Calvin Coolidge.  It's all written with classic Bryson humor and breeziness - and he doesnt pull punches (i.e. he takes on the fact that Lindbergh was basically a Nazi).  But for all that, it lacked something that his best books have.  It didn't seem like he was a engaged about it as the other books - something was just a little off.  Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoyed reading it, but I wouldn't call it the best of Bryson.

      On the other hand, Thunderbolt Kid, is fantastic.  It's his story of growing up in Iowa in the 1950's and what life was like.  It's nostalgic, but it's also hilarious - it walks the line between fondly remembering lost ways of life, and making fun of how ridiculous some of the ways were (the part about how dangerous the toys and games the kids played was worth it alone).  My dad said that if you were his (i.e. Bryson's) age, you'd get even more out of it, but I loved it even being of a younger generation.  It's a fun and funny read, classic Bryson and I recommend it fully.


© Carrie Dunsmore 2017