Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Pleasure To Burn

A Pleasure To Burn: Fahrenheit 451 Stories. Ray Bradbury. 2010. Subterranean Press. 300 pages.

Have you read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury? If you haven't, you should. It is one of those must-read novels, in my opinion. I've reviewed it several times now. If you have, you should consider picking up A Pleasure To Burn. It is a collection of Ray Bradbury's works--mainly short stories with a couple of novellas--that show the thematic evolution of the novel.

It includes
  • The Reincarnate (After awhile you will get over the inferiority complex. Maybe. There's nothing you can do about it. Just be careful to walk around at night. The hot sun is certainly difficult on you.)
  • Pillar of Fire (He came out of the earth, hating. Hate was his father; hate was his mother. It was good to walk again. It was good to leap up out of the earth, off of your back, and stretch your cramped arms violently and try to take a deep breath. He tried. He cried out. He couldn't breathe. He flung his arms over his face and tried to breathe. It was impossible. He walked on the earth, he came out of the earth. But he was dead.)
  • The Library (The people poured into the room. Health officials reeking of disinfectant, sprinklers in their hands. Police officials, fierce with blazing badges.)
  • Bright Phoenix (One day in April 2022, the great library door slammed flat shut. Thunder. Hello, I thought. At the bottom step glowering up at my desk, in a United Legion uniform which no longer hung as neatly upon him as it had twenty years before, stood Jonathan Barnes.)
  • The Mad Wizards of Mars (Their eyes were fire and the breath flamed from out the witches' mouths as they bent to probe the cauldron with greasy stick and bony finger.)
  • Carnival of Madness ("During the whole of a dull, dark and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher..." Mr. William Stendahl paused in his quotation. There, upon a low black hill, stood the house, its cornerstone bearing the inscription: 2249 A.D.)
  • Bonfire (The thing that bothered William Peterson most was Shakespeare and Plato, and Aristotle, and Jonathan Swift and William Faulkner and the poems of Weller, Robert Frost perhaps and John Donne and Robert Herrick. All of these, mind you, tossed into the Bonfire.)
  • The Cricket on the Hearth (The door slammed and John Martin was out of his hat and coat and past his wife as fluently as a magician en route to a better illusion.)
  • The Pedestrian (To enter out into that silence that was the city at eight o'clock of a misty evening in November, to put your feet upon that buckling concrete walk, to step over grassy seams and make your way, hands in pockets, through the silences, that was what Mr. Leonard Mead most dearly loved to do.)
  • The Garbage Collector (This is how his work was: He got up at five in the cold dark morning and washed his face with warm water if the heater was working and cold water if it the heater was not working.)
  • The Smile (In the town square the queue had formed at five in the morning, while cocks were crowing far out in the rimed country and there were no fires. All about, among the ruined buildings, bits of mist had clung at first, but now with the new light of seven o'clock it was beginning to disperse. Down the road, in twos and threes, more people were gathering in for the day of marketing, the day of festival.)
  • Long After Midnight (Mr. Montag dreamed. He was an old man hidden with six million dusty books. His hands crawled, trembling, over yellow pages, and his face was a smashed mirror of wrinkles by candlelight. Then, an eye at the keyhole! In his dream, Mr. Montag yanked the door. A boy fell in.)
  • The Fireman (The four men sat silently playing blackjack under a green droplight in the dark morning. Only a voice whispered from the ceiling: "One thirty-five a.m. Thursday morning, October 4th, 2052 A.D. One forty a.m....one fifty..." Mr. Montag sat stiffly among the other firemen in the fire house, heard the voice-clock mourn out the cold hour and the cold year, and shivered.)
It also includes three bonus stories: The Dragon Who Ate His Tail, Sometime Before Dawn, and To The Future.

The two pieces most intimately connected with Fahrenheit 451 are "Long After Midnight" and "The Fireman." I found it fascinating to read these two. To see the progress of this novel-in-the-making. To see the creative process at work. To learn what was the same--stayed the same--and how Bradbury was refining and reshaping his story. (For example, these two have Montag "becoming" the book of Job!) It was also interesting to see who was the biggest influence on Montag--Faber or Clarisse.

I enjoyed this one. I liked reading all the stories. Yes, the two longer pieces--"Long After Midnight" and "The Fireman" were the most fascinating--but the other stories are interesting as well. All the stories are worth reading. Then again, all of Ray Bradbury is worth reading!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

This sounds fascinating. I've always loved Fahrenheit 451, but I haven't read this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! for sharing, will have to try it.

kaye said...

This really is a great novel. It has a lot of surprising scenes...