TL DR My favorite stories are Skeleton , The Small Assassin and The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone.
Probably not Bradbury s best collection but Bradbury is always well worth reading The best Ray Bradbury anthology is IMO The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles is great but it is of a fix up novel.
As I write it is almost Halloween, the best time to read this collection One of the first books I ever read, and one of the reasons I still read I found some of the other reviews dismaying poor dialogue silly concepts antique writing style has the world and the people in it really changed that much Have people lost their hearts Perhaps, they ve just never read The Smile by Bradbury, not included in this collection.
Granted, Bradbury s style does take some getting used to the man is emotionally honest and as people everywhere become emotionally guarded, such honesty appears to be naivete It isn t, but that s an argument for another day And Bradbury occasionally enjoys being poetic or lyrical, so people marking time until they can rush through volume 17 of Lilith McHotpants, Ace Ghoul Slayer Part the Twelveteenth of the Saga of Kaaarfgaaasr , and P is for Perfunctory or whatever they spend the majority of their time reading may find such a style annoying Because, you know, it s about evoking feelings and such not pushing buttons.
But for those with the eye for a well told tale, and senses neither dulled by crap or so highly attuned by High Lit that they can t enjoy solid pulp, this should go down a treat The Dwarf still as sad and dark and painful as I remember it You have to love the breezy way Bradbury can just roll a story along with a deft turn of phrase or description the sea was a burning sheet of tinsel and glass So sad but honest that the cruel person doesn t even see what s wrong, and suffers nothing, while the girl s attempt to be human and humane puts the chain of events into motion And Mr Bigelow wrote detective stories Heh I like the fact that there s no overt supernatural elements in this collection at first, the initial stories all turn on human psyches and neurosis until The Skeleton The Next In Line notorious to me because it was so long I never finished it as a kid Here, again, no overt supernatural elements, just a woman suddenly overwhelmed by the inescapable awareness of her own mortality, exacerbated by the horrors of unburied mummies of Mexican peasants they can t afford the rent to remain buried any, in the most ultimate capitalist scam ever something to keep in mind for our futures , the strangeness of culture shock and the unloving husband to whom she s already dead This might be a tad overwrought overwritten but the feverish pitch of her nervous breakdown really does drag you along and the scenes in the catacombs counting to avoid the screaming dead but you can t avoid them because here they are, and here, and hereand HERE , the descriptions of the little Mexican town at night the streetlight blowing in the wind , the desperate race to escape the town but you can t escape death , the little details whirled and cavorted before the coffin shaped mirror and omens a sugar skull with your name on it , are all aces I especially liked the bit where she seeks escape and safety in reading writing from her world news pop magazines but even those are consumed far too quickly Also appreciated seeing the gestation for the idea of Skeleton in her comments on why skeletons do not bother her Just great, solid writing The Watchful Poker Chip of H Matisse Nice for a number of reasons, foremost in that it s a horror story but funny at the same time, the horror arising, again, from the psyche and how it responds to the attentions of groups inspiration for The Crowd possibly and popular culture Couldn t help thinking of that old George Carlin Book Club book title Self Mutilation As An Attention Getter as the story wrapped up, and that aspect is really where the dry, bitter horror lies and why the story is oddly relevant today as well Loved seeing VIC SADE get a name check the best OTR comedy show EVER but I guess that also makes me a hipster doofus like the rest of the Cellar Septet great band name waiting to be snagged I know Bradbury s tone towards the avant gardeians, like the tone of most people towards the artistic fringe, is disdainful but personally I love characters like this, ironic posing or no So Garvey s eventual transformation into a surrealist object is both sad and cool for me the Surrealists knew that desire and death were intricately linked Skeleton this rocked my world as a little kid and only impresses me as an adult The concept is just wonderfully simple man at war with his skeleton , then toss in the resonant symbolism the organic, painful messiness of life his outsides pitted against the clean, orderly, solid, reliable support structure of his insides, which symbolize death Only the dead are eternally cool as Hakim Bey said , the little details he s great at ceramics , and even some unexpected argument from the other side the heavy man s fat as a buffer against the battering of life, and a way to trap the skeleton in organic tar , topped off with a bizarre character that makes it a bone fide weird tale salty breadsticks and a memorable last line you ve got yourself a killer story The Jar has been adapted a few times I seem to remember a version on The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show from the 80s in which the country bumpkin setting is switched with a modern art one and it s a pretty solid, creepy story, although Bradbury s tendency to overwrite becomes a bit cartoonish when at least, I feel he s writing characters of a type that he s not directly familiar with Still, the inchoate mass in the jar is strangely evocative a blank screen onto which everyone projects their ideas and it s a nice reversal of The Watchful Poker Chip , in that one man desires to make himself the center of attention from people who don t really care about him The Lake is very touching I have a reading of this by Bradbury himself and it really is an effective, emotional piece about lost childhood love and the uncaring blankness of death The Emissary still gives me chills This was a favorite of mine as a child, and reading it as an adult, I wondered if perhaps it might have just seemed darker or threatening to me back then, but no the ending is ominously not good Bradbury really stretches his evocative language shtick here, conjuring autumn in a million ways while bolting the whole thing to a life lived memory of being an invalid, and then wrapping it in a strange variation of The Monkey s Paw except this timethe door gets to open Touched With Fire was also adapted on Alfred Hitchcock Presents albeit the original bw version It is very well done and I like the fact that the terrible events partially arise from the main characters desire to help people as in The Dwarf and, inverted strangely, the presumption of The Crowd which is proven wrong The writing makes the harridan woman a bit cartoonish, but that s part of the point, to draw you into feeling what Foxe or the other one, I forget feels and this building of tone and mood hot, irritable, loud, abrasive is well conjured Cute The Small Assassin is a genuine classic, postpartum depression twisted into a horror tale before there was even a term for it The last line is a killer and the modern resonances it brings, of abortion and sociopatholgy, are especially powerful What a great story The Crowd is another one of those unabashed classics a simple idea marvelously realized It s amazing how effective it is I don t even know if there s much to say I love the idea that the people encompass all character types and are immortal I also love that there s never a specific explanation or explication from the Crowd , so while the ending confirms the narrator s theory, we only ever really have his suppositions to go on I wish modern horror writers wrote stories this sharp Jack In The Box isokay It almost seems like an idea pregnant with possibilities than can reasonably be addressed in the short story form, although I do like idea that the kid thinks he s dead at the end, and that this year s special room was an elevator For some reason, this story strikes me as a partial riff on Lovecraft s The Outsider The Scythe is another great one solid, well told, well imagined, painful Another great idea that doesn t need world building or explication just accept it because Bradbury is such a good storyteller why would your ruin the story with questions It s like reading a young, creative person s first realization that death isn t fair and logical Uncle Einar is, of course, not really a horror story, of a weird tale in that fine old tradition It s also one of his stories about The Family that eventually influenced Charles Addams It s probably the slightest of those Family stories Cecy s story, The Traveler is really dark and I ve never read Bradbury s late in life reworking of this material into a novel form, because I feel so close to Homecoming and The Family, et al having discovered them at exactly the right moment of my childhood But this one is a wonderful bit of dark fantasy, touching and sweet The Wind a simple idea simply told, as long as it needs to be and no longer I love how it locates the main narrative away from the important action, and then comments upon that very thing as we sit here, people are dying , using the set up for an effective punchline Nice The Man Upstairs really made an impact on me as a kid With the imaginings of multicolored worlds seen through glass, the focus on innards of all types, the reinvention of the vampire , and the implied gruesome ending dissection, this is a great creepy horror story Again, even better for the lack of explanation There Was An Old Woman is another charming weird tale, with an unexpected ending usually, stories like this would be about acceptance of the inevitable The cantankerous old biddy is strongly sketched and the humor is well delivered The Cistern , slight but poetic, is about evoking Ophelia like images of drowned bodies and flowers deep underground than telling a full story The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone is also, I fear, a bit slight for my tastes It s a cute idea and, as expected, well told, but the central idea eh, too romantic an envisioning of a writer as character for my tastes.
I left Homecoming for last because its one of my favorite Bradbury stories ever, ur text for Charles Addams s famous Family, The Munsters, etc and thus a component of the whole 1950 s Monster Kid culture It also still brings tears to my eyes I hope he continued to walk the fine line the originals tread so assuredly the monsters ARE monsters, as Cecy s interaction with the old woman and the mud pits illustrates in his later re use of this material I wonder if all the Tim Burton fans even know a story like this exists Great stories from a great writer What could you want that country where it is always turning late in the year That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay That country composed in the main of cellars, sub cellars, coal bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain A collection of 19 macabre tales from who many consider to be the finest writer of fantastic fiction.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the majority of short story collections are hit and miss Well this one is all killer and no filler, baby Correction perhaps a teeny tiny bit of filler as there was ONE story I just didn t vibe with namely The Watchful Poker Chip of H Matisse but hey, as that Meatloaf song says one out of nineteen ain t bad Orsomething like that This was a really fun collection to read during my road trip in New England it was quite easy to fit in a story or two each evening I did try and read some aloud to my boyfriend, but he did not remain awake until the end for ANY of them However, I m going to blame that on my soothing voice and not the stories themselves My absolute FAVOURITE story was The Emissary This was a sweet story about a sick young boy and his dog that turns a little dark I love it when stories turn dark unexpectedly If you combine emotion with my horror, then I m gonna be on board about 93% of the time.
There s just so many memorable tales that I won t forget in a hurry The Small Assassin, which is about a mother who is convinced that her newborn baby is out to kill her The Scythe, a chilling tale about a man who comes into the possession of a powerful wheat field and an even powerful scythe The Lake which was my other favourite story is about a man revisiting his childhood home and recalling a friend who drowned in a lake during their childhood.
Bradbury s writing is beautifully poetic and his stories incredibly inventive I m reading these stories quite a few years after they were written and they are just as impactful and unique Bradbury is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors.
Can t rave about this one enough One of the best short story collections I ve ever read it s up there alongside King s Night Shift and Clive Barker s books of Blood All the stars Or 5 if we re using the standard rating system.
October Countrythat country where it is always turning late in the year That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay That country composed in the main of cellars, sub cellars, coal bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain Fall is probably my favorite of all seasons, and every year I walk on the streets, through avenues and parks There is a smell of burning leaves hanging around lazily, and the skies are still bright, sharp and clear, but the sun is less warm You can feel the wind getting colder and taste the air, now sharper and fresher Nights are chilling, with big yellow moons Leaves change their colors and are now a mixture of yellow, green, red and orange They start dropping from the trees one by one at first, but steadily gusts of wind grasp them by the handfuls and leave bare branches behind Although the process is inherently sad in nature as it forecasts the upcoming winter, with its ice and snow, there is an element of beauty in fall leaves on the ground, especially in the afternoon sunlight It casts a special shine which is not there in other seasons, and yellowing leaves make the streets look as if they were paved with gold.
My copy of The October Country has a new introduction by Ray Bradbury, written in 1999, where he claims to remembering being born and the development of his passion for stories and storytelling He wrote his first story in the seventh grade, and since the age of twelve knew that was the way to ensure proper immortality being remembered after our limited time on earth runs out Bradbury saw the process of writing as a match between life and death, each completed story a victory Days when he didn t write were threatening him extinction, and this is why he wrote every day since he turned twelve, evading death He died last year, at the age of 91, having published his last novel Farewell Summer six years before, along with hundreds of short stories Death has finally caught with Ray, but not before he had his say he went out on his own terms, and achieved the exact type of immortality that he hoped for The October Country contains nineteen very different stories, most of which were previously published in Bradbury s debut colection, Dark Carnival These are some of Bradbury s earliest stories, published before The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 There is a special pleasure in reading these stories allowing Ray Bradbury s gentle storytelling lull us in and expose us to his imagination I can see young Kings and Mathesons of this world reading his fiction deep into the night, possibly even with a flashlight under the bedcovers, amazed that a grownup could think such things onto paper Bradbury was a man who could both turn a phrase and had a great, big heart his warmth emanates from his writing, which is far removed from the vulgarity of contemporary world Bradbury was often accused of being too sentimental and too emotional, but I don t think this is completely correct while it s true that his stories offer a bucolic vision of the American heartland and the nostalgia of small town life, but didn t shy away from showing the nastiness running behind the curtain of these idealistic visions.
This is perhaps best illustrated in the opening story, The Dwarf, which is an achingly sad story of loneliness and cruelty What makes it sad is that not only the cruelty is pointless as it always is but that it s inflicted on someone who is in no capability to defend himself, and by someone who makes an extra effort to make sure that it hits where it hurts the most There s no need for supernatural elements here ordinary life is enough, as events like these happen every day, everywhere The Lake is another touching and sad story, but in another way it s about a man who revisits his childhood home and is flooded with memories of a lost friend It s almost a ghost story, but not quite the ghosts are the memories which flood the main character to the point where he almost re enters the past, and feels disconnected from and disappointed with the present reality.
There are great stories with a touch of horror here, too The Skeleton and The Small Assassin both have great, imaginative premises and work very well The first one features a man convinced that his skeleton is out to kill him and tries to fight it it concludes with a great, memorable last line, true to style of classic short fiction The Small Assassin is Bradbury s experiment with psychological horror a woman becomes convinced that her newborn baby is conspiring to kill her While this might seem to be just an example of postnatal stress and depression, the arguments she uses sound at least a bit true is there anything in the world selfish than a baby, with its unending demand for constant care and attention Do some mothers and fathers do not have the feeling that sometimes their baby is acting the way it does just to spite and annoy them This is a great horror story without vampires or boogeymen, but with cribs, nappies and milk bottles The last line, again, is a killer literally There are horrific stories here The Next in Line features a couple exploring a cemetery in a small Mexican town which holds a truly capitalistic policy towards the buried and their families The Crowd is another great story which truly emphasizes Bradbury s great strength exploring simple ideas and writing classic tales based on them Its narrator finds it odd that crowds of spectators always gather around the scene of an accident, and finds people who would stare at someone s tragedy reprehensible the truth is stranger than any of us could suspect Same goes for The wind, where a man is obsessed with wind he s an adventurer who thinks that wind has always been out there to get him, and even though he always managed to escape he s convinced that this time his luck has finally ran out There was an Old Woman is different, in the way that it takes a scary situation and makes it amusing it s concerned with an old, cantankerous woman who just refuses to die It s good and full of fun humor.
There s a great mixture of Bradbury s recollection of his youth mixed with his interest in weirdness in Uncle Einar and Homecoming, both of which share characters Uncle Einar was inspired by Bradbury s favorite uncle, and you can see his love in this weird tale of a man with wings who longs to return to the skies but has to live among people who don t have them The resolution is heartwarming and memorable Homecoming is the exact reverse of Uncle Einar Timothy, its young narrator, is a mortal child living among supernatural beings Left on their doorstep as an infant, he longs to be like them but at the same time understands that this will never be possible Unlike Uncle Einar, Homecoming is a sad story of a boy who wishes to belong but will always be an outsider, even with the complete support of his adoptive family.
My favorite story from the entire collection is probably The Scythe, which is a great, imaginative story, in the nature of the folk tales that I read as a young boy Set in what looks like the Depression, a poor family notices an empty house at the end of a road, and upon entering discovers the body of a previous inhabitant and his will bequeathing both the house and farm behind it to the person reading it The family is overjoyed at first, and after a few days of rest the father cannot sit still any and goes to cut wheat in the field only to discover strange things about it, and the way it grows It s a great story in the classic tradition of moral tales that there will always be a price to pay for what seems to be too good to be true, and that we should be wary of things which seem to be just incredible luck The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone is a great coda Dudley Stone is an extraordinarily successful writer who has quit the profession at the age of 30, without explanation, leaving people without any certainty if he was even alive or dead 25 years later a group of his most devoted fans cannot bear not knowing, and one of them decides to go to Stone s hometown and find information about him It s a great story to end the collection, a meditation on the choices we make in life and the things we set as priorities, with a beautiful last line.
I could very well discuss all the stories, but I believe that the reader deserves the pleasure to discover The October Country on their own, especially with illustrations by Joe Mugnaini So come along and open the book to visit that country, the country dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay, whose people are autumn people thinking autumn thoughts, and who on the empty walks at night sound like rain This was a great collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury I m so glad I read this book in October with the leaves coming down, the air was crisp and Halloween was around the corner It really added to the overall atmosphere for the book.
Favorite short stories The Next in Line , Skeleton , The Emissary , The Small Assassin and The Scythe Bradbury s writing is so beautiful, flawless and fantastical I definitely recommend this collection to Bradbury fans and anyone that enjoys horror and fantasy genres Watch The Twilight Show even any other derivative of that show for that matter, i.
e anything from Perversions of Science to Black Mirror to Tales from the Crypt and those goosebumps that develop ever so sinister like Every story in this collection earns that type of unforgettable excitement the pure thrill of being scared And by no other than this maestro Hard to believe that the master was with me, personally, all along I still remember coming across Something Wicked this Way Comes in middle school and thinking how awful that true terror is available to all people equally you are not immune because you of your sex, race, and age It is a common thread that unites us whether it be bodily terror, or psychological torment, or straight up monster mash Being scared.
My favorite short story all of them are as perfect as can be Skeleton.
Finally Finally, I ve read this classic collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury I m so glad that I did What can I say about this that hasn t already been said It s beautifully written Some of the stories were so haunting, I know that they will stick with me for the rest of my life Ones like The Scythe and The Dwarf , Jack in the Box and Homecoming Bradbury s style is sparse he packs a lot of meaning into very few words His prose is so beautiful that, at times, the reader has to pause for a moment and savor it Seriously, it s amazing.
I highly recommend this collection of short stories written by one of the masters of the form This might be a re read but for the most part, I had forgotten much of what I read here from way back in the day.
It s odd I ve changed as a reader These slow and gently transformative stories are prosaic They don t grab me as much as they might have, years ago Indeed, I dropped a star for that reason But I still found enough to love in them that I didn t just despair from boredom.
For one, I m familiar enough with so many movies and tv shows and even music to exclaim Hey They took that from Bradbury or Hey Someone really ran with a Bradbury idea and made it deadly or This is superior to Bradbury Ahem Bradbury has great ideas Bradbury has wonderful prose Yes But he s also mild I love writers that take ideas and do something extraordinary, and back when these were written, that was probably the case.
Something to consider His story Touched with Fire has a great, perhaps apocryphal, line about murders occurring at 92 degrees F than any other temperature It was used in the 70 s B movie It Came From Outer Space And then it was used in a great song by Siouxsie and the Banshees was all, like I love that song Another fun fact, Siouxsie s punk music also does full tributes to Stephen King and Shakespeare Much love Oh, I hated the story The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone Everything else was fine, if not super grabbing.