The 1950’s in America were an uncomplicated time. People were always excited for anything and everything and at the same time, content. Their lives were different from how we live our lives today.
The people then weren’t afraid of nuclear weapons. Hell, they used to go out into the desert to actually watch nuclear weapon tests. Shoe stores had X-Ray machines to measure your foot size, which your body with radiation into a state of higher energy, which meant you would be pumped up to buy your shoes (No, it was not a marketing thing. They were just excited people keen on doing new and crazy stuff). They had atomic toilets that glowed and came in and out of the walls. Trick shops that sold porn under the counter. Scientists who came up with new and exciting ways to end the world. Children making bombs to mark their graduation day. Or almost causing a fire in their homes while playing with matches.
People had such zeal back in the 1950’s. They were easily excited by anything new, no matter how dangerous. They didn’t give a damn about radiation ash falling all over their body. They didn’t care about the amounts of radiation going into their body while getting their shoe sizes done. Then again, maybe they didn’t know about the harmful effects. Maybe they were ignorant about them. But they were blissful. And they appreciated all little things about the 1950’s that made the 1950’s what they were.
Our book, “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” is set in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1950’s. Back then, Bill Bryson, the author of the book, was still a kid, who thought he was from a different planet, and had super powers. Which he often used to punish evil people and wrong doers.
In the process of showing us growing up in the 1950’s, Bill Bryson also sets a world of the 1950’s. And also shows how the world has changed over time. He takes up these small details of the 1950’s and juxtaposes them with today to show the contrast.
I don’t remember all the points he put up, but one point I remember vividly. It was about Des Moines. Bill Bryson talked about what made Des Moines Des Moines, and how it was different from every other city. Des Moines had its own downtown, different from every other city. It had its own range of restaurants and delis and shops that made it unique. The shops that only the residents of Des Moines knew about. Unlike today, where every city has the same global brands and stores, making them virtually indistinguishable from every other city. Hell, that’s how every other city in the 1950’s was as well.
That’s what I love about this book. It sets up this beautiful amazing world, tells us what people used to do and how satisfied they would be. And it makes you think about what is missing in our lives. Why do most of the people we know sad, or inactive, or why are so always on the move and never at ease. Maybe the picture that Bill Bryson painted was incessantly optimistic, and didn’t show all the sadness as well, but I think even then it would still be better than today.
Another aspect I love about this book is the humor. Bill Bryson describes the most mundane of things in the most hilarious of ways. And with the 1950’s littered with crazy things (Trust me, everything in the first paragraph is a mole and what I haven’t written is a mountain), there was no dearth of humorous incidents for Bryson (Such as kids stealing beer!).
“The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” is a light read. It has no serious message. It’s just a story about growing up in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1950’s. It’s a fun book, one that you’ll find recommending to other people to read because of how amazing it is.
A crazy book you’ll find yourself quoting in a looootttt of places. Full of these stupid little things that you can use in arguements. Ask me, I reference this book a lot whenever I want to supplement how stupid the CIA has been!