Reading Recommendations: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, a Memoir, Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the American century, 1951, in the middle of the United States, Des Moines, Iowa, in the middle of the largest generation in American history, the baby boomers. As one of the best and funniest writers alive, he is perfectly positioned to mine his memories of a totally all-American childhood for 24-carat memoir gold. Like millions of his generational peers, Bill Bryson grew up with a rich fantasy life as a superhero. In his case, he ran around his house and neighborhood with an old football jersey with a thunderbolt on it and a towel about his neck that served as a cape, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishing awful evil doers (and morons), in his head, as "The Thunderbolt Kid."
Using this persona as a springboard, Bill Bryson re-creates the life of his family and his native city in the 1950's in all its transcendent normality, at once completely familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy. It was, he reminds us, a happy time, when automobiles and televisions and appliances (not to mention nuclear weapons) grew larger and more numerous with each passing year, and DDT, cigarettes, and the fallout from atmospheric testing were considered harmless and even good for you. He brings us into the life of his loving but eccentric family, including affectionate portraits of his father, a gifted sports writer for the local paper and dedicated practitioner of isometric exercises, and his mother, whose job as the home furnishings editor for the same paper left her little time for practicing the domestic arts at home.
Warm and laughout funny, this book will enchant anyone whose ever been young or lived through the 50's. Thank you, Janis Bull. I too enjoyed Bill Bryson at his best!
And, Etta, a novel, Gerald Kolpan
Beautiful, elusive, and refined, Etta Place captivated the nation at the turn of the last century as she dodged the law with the Wild Bunch, led by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Her true identity and fate have remained a mystery that has tantalized historians for decades. Now, for the first time, Gerald Kolpan envisions this remarkable woman's life in a stunning debut novel.
Kolpan imagines that Etta Place was born Lorinda Jameson, the daughter of prominent financier, who becomes known as the loveliest of the city's debutantes when she makes her entrance into Philadelphia society. Though her position in life is already assured, her true calling is on horseback. She can ride as well as any man and handle a rifle even better. But when a tragedy leads to a dramatic reversal of fortune, Lorinda is left orphaned, penniless, homeless, and pursued by the ruthless Black Hand Mafia.
Rechristened "Etta Place" to ensure her safety, the young woman travels to the farthest reaches of civilization, working as a "Harvey Girl" waitress in Grand Junction, Colorado. There, fate intervenes once more and she again finds herself on the run from the ruthless Pinkerton Detective Agency. But this time she has company. She soon finds herself at the legendary hideout at Hole-In-The-Wall, Wyoming, where she meets the charismatic Butch Cassidy and the handsome, troubled Harry Longbaugh, a.k.a. the Sundance Kid. Through a series of hold ups and heists, Etta and Harry begin an epic and ultimately tragic romance, which will be the greatest of Etta's life. Then, when Etta meets the young and idealistic Eleanor Roosevelt, her life is changed forever.
Blending a compelling love story, high adventure, and thrilling historical drama, in a sweeping 1900's setting, Etta is a fiction debut both captivating and unforgettable.
And for those of you Kathie Lee Gifford fans, Just When I Thought I'd Dropped My Last Egg, Life and other calamities might be just the thing.
See you at Rylander!