His memoir of the 1950s is no less golden than any of his Travelogues. Capturing the heart and spirit of mid-'50s Middle-class Middle-America, Bryson weaves a valuable tale that is both hilarious and historically educational. People tend to think of history as "What wars were we in at that time?" with little-or-no thought about what was going on in the kitchen of the people next door.
I have a thorough appreciation for Bryson's mixture of newspaper clippings, personal anecdotes, and careful research into the day-to-day humdrum lifestyles of people in any area.
Colorado Jess, November 23, 2013 (view all comments by Colorado Jess)
I will admit it. I am a huge Bill Bryson fan. In this book, as most of his others, I was brought to tears of laughter and made to ponder. Bill Bryson brings to life a childhood of innocence and mischief in the 1950's. Picture him during a civil defense drill, sitting at his desk while everyone else, including the teacher, is under theirs. His father had pointed out that if there was a bomb, they would all be dead within 90 minutes. So Bill spends his time constructively reading a comic book. Make sense to me!
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kilter, January 3, 2012 (view all comments by kilter)
gut-splittingly funny; full of iconic imagery of everyday childhood and life in the fifties and sixties juxtaposed with some of the harebrained politics, schemes and inventions I had nearly forgotten about.
Tammy, November 12, 2007 (view all comments by Tammy)
I just finished this book. Bill Bryson never disappoints. This has truly funny stories of his childhood and brings back many memories for anyone who grew up in the 50's and 60's.
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by Tom Brokaw,
"Bill Brysons laugh-out-loud pilgrimage through his Fifties childhood in heartland America is a national treasure. Its full of insights, wit, and wicked adolescent fantasies."
by The Wall Street Journal,
"Bryson is unparalleled in his ability to cut a culture off at the knees in a way that is so humorous and so affectionate that those being ridiculed are laughing too hard to take offense."
by San Franciso Examiner,
"A cross between de Tocqueville and Dave Barry, Bryson writes about America in a way thats both trenchantly observant and pound-on-the-floor, snort-root-beer-out-of-your-nose funny."
by Chicago Sun-Times,
"Bill Bryson could write an essay about dryer lint or fever reducers and still make us laugh out loud."
by New York Times Book Review,
"Bryson is great company, a lumbering, droll, neatnik intellectual who comes off as equal parts Garrison Keillor, Michael Kinsley, and Dave Barry."
From one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the English language, a vivid, nostalgic and utterly hilarious memoir of growing up in the middle of the United States in the middle of the last century. A book that delivers on the promise that it is "laugh-out-loud funny."
Some say that the first hints that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came from his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people's hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman.
Bill Bryson's first travel book opened with the immortal line, "I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to." In this hilarious new memoir, he travels back to explore the kid he once was and the weird and wonderful world of 1950s America. He modestly claims that this is a book about not very much: about being small and getting much larger slowly. But for the rest of us, it is a laugh-out-loud book that will speak volumes - especially to anyone who has ever been young.
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