The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

A Memoir

Bill Bryson

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid -- A Memoir

“Then one day when I was not quite six years old I was in the basement, just poking around, seeing if there was anything sharp or combustible that I hadn't come across before, and hanging behind the furnace I found a woolen jersey of rare fineness. I slipped it on. It was many, many sizes too large for me – the sleeves all but touched the floor if I didn't repeatedly push them back up – but it was the handsomest article of attire I had ever seen. It was made of a lustrous oiled wool, deep bottle green in color, and was extremely warm and heavy, rather scratchy, and slightly moth-holed but still exceptionally splendid. Across the chest, in a satin material, now much faded, was a golden thunderbolt. Interestingly, no one knew where it came from. My father thought that it might be an old college football or ice hockey jersey, dating from sometime before the First World War. But how it got into our house he had no idea. He guessed that the previous owners had hung it there and forgotten it when they moved.”

Now, what child hasn't dreamed or fantasized that he or she isn't really the child or his or her parents, but is, instead, the long-lost prince or princess of some mythical kingdom? Or perhaps even a superhero? Bill Bryson, author of previously-reviewed classics such as A Walk in the Woods and Lost Continent, has outdone himself with his latest work, a memoir titled The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. He goes on to elaborate about the incredible jersey:

“But I knew better. It was, obviously, the Sacred Jersey of Zap, left to me by King Volton, my late natural father, who had brought me to Earth in a silver spaceship in Earth year 1951 (Electron year 21,000,047,002) shortly before our austere by architecturally exuberant planet exploded spectacularly in a billion pieces of pastel-colored debris. He had placed me with this innocuous family in the middle of America and hypnotized them into believing that I was a normal boy so that I could perpetuate the Electron powers and creed.

This jersey then was the foundation garment of my superpowers. It transformed me. It gave me colossal strength, rippling muscles, X-ray vision, the ability to fly and to walk upside down across ceilings, invisibility on demand, cowboy skills like lassoing and shooting guns out of people's hands from a distance, a good voice for singing around campfires, and curious bluish-black hair with a teasing curl at the crown. It made me, in short, the kind of person that want to be and women want to be with.”

I imagine we could all use a magic garment like that upon occasion – be sure to read all about the life and times of the Thunderbolt Kid!

Copyright © 2006, S. Halversen.
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