The good ol' days
I expected to love The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid since I am a baby boom contemporary of Bill Bryson's and also grew up in the midwest (Bryson grew up in Des Moines) and I have really enjoyed his other books. In this case though, I was disappointed, even though I did enjoy parts of the book.
Was it Bryson's intent to chronicle times past (most specifically the fifties for the middle class) or to lament the simpler more idylic life he had as a child? I am not sure and suspect he was trying to do some of both. I listened to the interview with him at the end of the audiobook and he stated that he tried to keep himself out of the book as much as possible.
And that is too bad, at least from my perspective because for me the personal stories were some of the best of the book. Both of his parents worked at the newspaper; his father was a sportswriter. I enjoyed the family stories and his childhood recollections. He called himself the Thunderbolt Kid because of a shirt with a Thunderbolt logo that he found.
I also remember the awe and curiosity when someone got a new appliance and friends and family visited to look at it. Bryson is a good writer, he has the ability to make reading about everyday life interesting, he is often very funny, and presents an entertaining picture of life in the 50's.