Friday, July 06, 2012

Twelve Stories of Ray Bradbury

I am slowly-but-surely making my way through The Stories of Ray Bradbury. To visit the other posts in the series: first twelve, next twenty-six, next three, next ten. Since Sunday, I've been able to read twelve more stories in this massive collection--it's over 1,100 pages.

Calling Mexico
And then there is that day when all around, all around you hear the dropping of the apples, one by one, from the trees. 
A short story about death. I'm sure I should remember more than that--after all, it's only been three or four days since I read this one, but, an old man dying is all I can seem to remember.

The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit
It was summer twilight in the city, and out front of the quiet-clicking pool hall three young Mexican-American men breathed the warm air and looked around at the world. 
This story, on the other hand, I remember quite well! I just loved it, found it very fun, rather light-hearted, charming in tone and not too dark. It is a story about a group of friends who came together, in a way, because they are all the same size. Because they are the same size, they can share this one wonderful, marvelous suit. A suit that none of the men could have dreamed of buying on their own. But they take turns wearing it, and have the time of their lives.

Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed
The rocket metal cooled in the meadow winds. 
Another short story that I just LOVED AND ADORED. This one is science fiction, it is set on Mars. It's the story of human settlers on Mars...and that's all I'm going to say about that. But it was FABULOUS. This one was not from Martian Chronicles, but, it was included in S is for Space.

The Strawberry Window
In his dream he was shutting the front door with its strawberry windows and lemon windows and windows like white clouds like clear water in a country stream.
Another short story set on Mars involving settlers. A husband knows his wife is homesick, but, he has a surprise for her. He has no idea if his surprise will be a total fail or a success. I enjoyed this one, I did. I'm not sure I loved it as much as "Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed" though it is a lighter story, in a way.

A Scent of Sarsaparilla
Mr. William Finch stood quietly in the dark and blowing attic all morning and afternoon for three days. For three days in late November, he stood alone, feeling the soft, white flakes of Time falling out of the infinite cold steel sky, silently, softly, feathering the roof and powdering the eaves. 
Another story that I really really enjoyed! This one involves a man who discovers a way to travel in time! Well, if you believe him that features a husband and wife...
"If you don't finish that attic today, I'll come up and toss everything out myself."
"Oh, no," he cried. "I have everything the way I want it!"
She looked at him coldly.
"Cora," he said, eating his lunch, relaxing, beginning to enthuse again, "you know what attics are? They're Time Machines, in which old, dim-witted men like me can travel back forty years to a time when it was summer all year round and children raided ice wagons. Remember how it tasted? You held the ice in your handkerchief. It was like sucking the flavor of linen and snow at the same time."
Cora fidgeted.
It's not impossible, he thought, half closing his eyes, trying to see it and build it. Consider an attic. Its very atmosphere is Time. It deals in other years, the cocoons and chrysalises of another age. All the bureau drawers are little coffins where a thousand yesterdays lie in state. Oh, the attic's a dark, friendly place, full of Time, and if you stand in the very center of it, straight and tall, squinting your eyes, and thinking and thinking, and smelling the Past, and putting out your hands to feel of Long Ago, why, it...
He stopped, realizing he had spoken some of this aloud. Cora was eating rapidly.
"Well, wouldn't it be interesting," he asked the part in her hair, "if Time Travel could occur? And what more logical, proper place for it to happen than in an attic like ours, eh?"
The Picasso Summer
George and Alice Smith detrained at Biarritz one summer noon and in an hour had run through their hotel onto the beach into the ocean and back out  to bake upon the sand.
Don't remember much about this one...except that it is about George's accidental meeting with a nameless (to readers) artist on the beach.

The Day It Rained Forever
The hotel stood like a hollowed dry bone under the very center of the desert sky where the sun burned the roof all day.
This story has atmosphere, but, I'm not quite sure I "get" every little thing about it. It is set in the desert at a hotel in a ghost town. The story features three men, three lonely, lonely men who are waiting for one thing and only one thing: the sound of rain. It is January 29th, the one day of the year--supposedly--when rain comes. But something--or someone--comes that day this year...

A Medicine for Melancholy
"Send for some leeches; bleed her," said Doctor Gimp
Melodrama perhaps at its best?! This is the DRAMATIC story of a young teen girl who is "dying." Her parents have tried everything to help their daughter get over her melancholy--including asking neighbors and strangers alike for "advice" on how to treat what ails her... the Dustman, for example, tells her that the moon will cure her...
The moon rose.
And the higher the moon, the larger grew Camillia's eyes as she watched the alleys, the courts, the streets until at last, at midnight, the moon moved over her to show her like a marble figure atop an ancient tomb.
A motion in darkness.
Camillia pricked her ears.
A faint melody sprang out on the air.
A man stood in the shadows of the court.
Camillia gasped.
The man stepped forth into moonlight, carrying a lute which he strummed softly. He was a man well-dressed, whose face was handsome and, now anyway, solemn.
"A troubadour," said Camillia aloud.
The man, his finger on his lips, moved slowly forward and soon stood by her cot.
"What are you doing out so late?" asked the girl, unafraid but not knowing why.
"A friend sent me to make you well." He touched the lute strings. They hummed sweetly. He was indeed handsome there in the silver light.
"That cannot be," she said, "for it was told me, the moon is my cure."
"And so it will be, maiden."
"What songs do you sing?"
"Songs of spring nights, aches, and ailments without name. Shall I name your fever, maiden?"
"If you know it, yes."
"First, the symptoms: raging temperatures, sudden cold, heart fast then slow, storms of temper, then sweet calms, drunkenness from having sipped only well water, dizziness from being touched only thus--"
He touched her wrist, saw her melt toward delicious oblivion, drew back.
"Depressions, elations," he went on. "Dreams--"
"Stop!" she cried, enthralled. "You know me to the letter. Now name my ailment!"
"I will." He pressed his lips to the palm of her hand so she quaked suddenly. "The name of the ailment is Camillia Wilkes."
The Shoreline at Sunset
Tom, knee-deep in the waves, a piece of driftwood in his hand, listened.
Don't remember this one at all. Not even a little bit.

Fever Dream
They put him between fresh, clean, laundered sheets and there was always a newly squeezed glass of thick orange juice on the table under the dim pink lamp. 
A truly strange story. I remember it, but I'm not sure I want to. About a sick little boy who feels his body is being taken over by microbes--that he is changing into something else, somebody else....

The Town Where No One Got Off
Crossing the continental United States by night, by day, on the train you flash past town after wilderness town where nobody ever gets off. 
And this is a darker Bradbury story. A creepy story about TWO creepy men...

All Summer in a Day
Science fiction story with a classroom setting--it is about bullying in a way. On Venus, the sun is only visible two hours every seven years. Margot, the little girl bullied into a closet, is the only one who remembers what sunshine feels like--what summer feels like. (She still remembers Earth). The sun comes--but not everyone gets to share in the experience.... this one has a melancholy feel to it.

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Lisa said...

Some of these stories sound very interesting but I am not sure I could get through such a large book. I just finally got around to reading Fahreinheit 451 and reviewed it @
I respected Mr. Bradbury though and admired his determination to suceed at writing.

Becky said...

I think the key, Lisa, is to make this more of a life-long project than to try to read it straight through. Since I've got it from the library, I'm trying to read it faster than I probably should.