Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To Be a Boy

Back in August, Chewing the Cud by Dick King-Smith jump-started my reading after a slight drought. I truly loved his memoir. Lately, I've picked up a few more memoirs. Somehow, they've all been by male authors. Interesting. I'm wondering if I had a subconscious need to see childhood through a boy's eyes.

26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie DePaola is a very short child-friendly book, which is the beginning of a series I am now looking forward to reading. It charmed my socks off. Life as a five-year-old boy in 1939.

Before that, I read Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl. Hilarious escapades, not so hilarious school beatings, but always engaging. Life as a boy in Norway/Wales/England in the 20s and 30s. I have Dahl's sequel about his years as a WWII pilot, Going Solo, on my book stack.

I then read The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson. Side-splitting, laugh-out-loud funny. Completely irreverent and, ahem, indecent at times, Bryson left out nothing about what it is like to be part of the male species. The memoir is filled not only with memories of a boy growing up in Iowa in the 50s, but with an astonishing amount of information about the era. I seriously feel as if I completed a crash course in American history, circa 1950.

The Thunderbolt Kid reminded me a bit of The Great Brain, simply because neither book glosses over boyhood experiences from a politically incorrect age. And they both have a shockingly matter-of-fact tone when describing things such as helping a friend commit suicide, polio and other childhood diseases, school-yard hierarchy, neighbors starving to death, ethnic people, planting alcohol in a teacher's room to get him fired....I think I turned pale several times when reading The Great Brain aloud to Levi a while back. I didn't remember a lot of things from when I read it as a child.

Speaking of The Great Brain, Papa Married a Mormon, also by John D. Fitzgerald, is near the top of my towering book stack.

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