life and times
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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
By Bill Bryson

Bryson's memoir of growing up in Des Moines captures the optimism of American life in the 1950s. "My wife gave this to me," says Williams. "She thought that I could use a little lightness in my reading. My memories as a kid are of a kind of clunky, grindingly middle-class America, where an American cheese slice individually wrapped was the biggest deal in the world. Also, a roasted marshmallow. And half a Popsicle—you had to get the crack absolutely right or someone got shortchanged. This book is how I grew up. I laughed through it in bursts, in paroxysms, in spasms."

Brian's next pick: No Ordinary Time

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