This book is fantastic! I don’t recall ever laughing out loud as frequently while reading a book. It’s simply hilarious. I’ve read a couple other books by Bill Bryson and they were likewise wonderful, but I didn’t experience the fits of giggles like this book caused.
Memiors are my favorite genre, hands down. This one is great because it intertwines personal stories from Bryson’s eccentric family with great historical information about the 1950s. Postwar America and all of the advances in the 50s seem like a character itself in this book. Bryson brings this world to life and pokes fun at the simpleness and often ridiculousness of the age.
Bryson was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa in 1951. He was born in the middle of the country in the middle of the century. It’s a great window into the life of our country and our collective history.
I have to share a passage that is particularly funny (I read this passage while at Starbucks and felt rather embarassed to be giggling uncontrollably amongst all the quiet strangers). Here goes:
The school day was largely taken up with putting on or taking off clothing. it was an exhaustingly tedious process. It took most of the morning to take off your outdoor wear and most of the afternoon to get it back on, assuming you could find any of it among the jumbled, shifting heap of garments that carpeted the cloakroom floor to a depth of about three feet. Changing time was always like a scene at a refugee camp, with at least three kids wandering around weeping copiously because they had only one boot or no mittens. Teachers were never to be seen at such moments.
Having lived in California my entire life, I can’t relate to this particular experience. But, nonetheless, I could picture those poor children looking for their missing articles of clothing! Bryson’s ability to describe a scene using just the right amount of hyperbole so you can laugh but also understand the truth behind the description, it’s just perfect.