Sunday, May 11, 2008

Of illnesses and thunderbolts, part 2

Well, last night, as I said I would in my last post, I read more of The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid before I fell asleep. I was bummed that I got tired enough that I had to put the book down and get some shuteye, because, for the first time in a few chapters, there were a couple of laughs.

The first chapter I read had to do with the elementary school years. Ah, the good ol' days of innocence and recess. I enjoyed the passage about school field trips. Apparently, in his youth, Bryson was a Charlie Brown-type of student. He never had anything for show and tell. He forgot to bring valentines and Christmas cookies for the holiday celebrations. He forgot to bring back official forms on time. Bryson describes in one humorous passage how the principal's secretary tried to contact his mother to obtain permission to go on a field trip, and how his mother wasn't around because her department was always out to coffee. So little Billy Bryson was always the one kid stuck in the library when eveyone else went to the Wonder Bread factory. However, he didn't mind, since it "was Des Moines...and not a great deal had ever happened in Iowa; nothing at all if you excluded ice ages." (p. 144)

The second chapter I read was titled "Man at Work", which chronicled Bryson's days as a paper boy. I was very briefly, in the 5th grade, a paper girl myself. Well, not really; I actually helped my best friend deliver our town's version of the PennySaver. She got paid; I just went along for the company and the adventure. Anyway, if there's anything I've gleaned from Bill Bryson's writing, it's that he tends to exaggerate; some of his passages need to be taken with a grain of salt. However, the paper boy chapter is right on the money, if only based on his descriptions of collecting subscription money from his customers and running away from vicious dogs (the latter actually happened to me more than once).

I only have four chapters left of this book; I just skimmed to see how many there are. I am particularly excited because a character from one of Bryson's previous books is making an appearance: Katz. If you have read A Walk in the Woods, Bryson's tome chronicling his experiences on the Appalachian Trail, you will know who Katz is--and you won't soon forget him. I can't wait to find out how and why Katz became the person he became.

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day. The Bookkitten is going to see the Big Mama Cat today. I can't wait to see how many mystery books she's acquired in the time I was last at her house.

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