It was a pleasure to burn.
I first read and reviewed Fahrenheit 451 in May 2007. I then read the graphic novel in October 2010. I couldn't resist reading the "real" book at that time as well. I even sought out A Pleasure to Burn, a collection of stories that traces Bradbury's developing themes. That collection included two crucial stories: "The Fireman" and "Long After Midnight." (Also I watched the movie.) The summer of 2012, I read tons of Ray Bradbury, and, of course, I had to reread Fahrenheit 451!
I definitely consider Fahrenheit 451 one of the rare must-reads. It is intense and thought-provoking. The novel, as a whole, is powerful. But it is in conversation (or dialogue) that this one truly shines. Guy Montag's conversations with Clarisse, with Faber, and to some extent even his boss and wife. It's a very reflective novel as well. In its pages, readers get a glimpse of a man at his most vulnerable: a self awakening of sorts as a man wakes up to the nightmare world in which he's been a part of all along.
Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man? Me? I won't stomach them for a minute...Remember, Montag, we're the happiness boys. We stand against the small tide of those who want to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought. (50-1)
We've started and won two atomic wars since 1990! Is it because we're having so much fun at home we've forgotten the world? Is it because we're so rich and the rest of the world's so poor and we just don't care if they are? Is that why we're hated so much? Do you know why? I don't, that's sure! Maybe the books can get us half out of the cave. God, Millie, don't you see? An hour a day, two hours, with these books, and maybe... (62)
It’s been a long time. I’m not a religious man. But it’s been a long time.’ Faber turned the pages, stopping here and there to read. ‘It’s as good as I remember. Lord, how they’ve changed it in our parlors these days. Christ is one of the family now. I often wonder if God recognizes His own son the way we’ve dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He’s a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystal and saccharine when he isn’t making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs.’ (81)
Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You'd find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more 'literary' you are. That's my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies. So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless. We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam. (83)Though this one is "about" books, in a way, it is not. It is about the ideas, emotions, concepts behind the books. It is about the knowledge and wisdom sometimes contained in books, but never exclusively found in books. It is about choices and lifestyles. The nightmarish culture found in Fahrenheit 451 is a result of people choosing to be shallow, selfish, materialistic, technology-obsessed, and pleasure-seeking. People are "happy." But their "happiness" is fake. It comes at the cost of suppressing emotion and intellect. Free thinking is not encouraged. Thoughts shouldn't have depth and substance! One shouldn't ponder, consider, or reflect! It's about lives packed with noise and busyness--a blur of distractions--all designed to keep you from realizing there is something more, something that has been lost.
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews