Flashback – The Illustrated Man

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

I would be hard pressed to tell you which of the three collections I’ll talk about this week is my favourite collection. But The Illustrated Man does sell itself hard. The premise for the story itself is fascinating to me. Several of the short stories in the collection appear in other collections as well. So when I read The Illustrated Man it felt odd to recognize them. However, given the new premise for the collection I felt as though I was given an opportunity to read them for the first time all over again.

In this collection the “main character” traveling one night comes across a man tattooed completely from head to foot. There is only one space on his back that is not filled in with ink. It supposedly tells the future.

The unnamed narrator looks at all of the Man’s tattoos and the reader gets to vicariously experience some of Bradbury’s most imaginative stories. “The Veldt” gives me chills to this day. “The Fox and the Forest” has a great Hemingway sort of feel to it. “The Exiles” breathes life into some of Literature’s most beloved characters (and some of Bradbury’s favourite authors). Can you tell that I was completely fascinated by this collection? I absolutely loved it.

Apparently Bradbury received mixed reviews for the framing and the collection of the stories. However, I found them wonderful. Each story chosen demonstrates Bradbury’s ability to span genres, to make the future appear acceptably foreign yet relatable as it actually is, and completely creep the reader out. They are parts horror, fantasy, science fiction, and parable. Wonderful fodder for the imagination. Reading something by Bradbury puts me on a high for several days.

You can read a bit more about the collection here. Now, this book was made into a movie which I attempted to watch once. But it was filmed in 1969 and had far too much brown in the scenery. I didn’t make it much past the first five minutes or so. However I’d like to give it another go and since I’m keeping my Netflix/Qwikster account I’m sure that will be possible. Plus this poster is really freaking cool.

The Illustrated Man, the movie

  Tomorrow we’ll talk about the second collection I read: The Martian Chronicles.

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Rules to Live By

Near the close of the summer a book hit the shelves that had all the literary critics crossing their eyes they were so excited. The book was Rules of Civility written by Amor Towles, first-time novelist and principal at a Manhattan investment firm (sounds scripted, eh?), was immediately hailed as a “love letter to New York in the 30s” and compared to the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

It’s a novel about exactly what you’d expect you to be about with a setting like 1930s New York. Flashy, society climbing twenty-somethings carving out their existence in The City. Katey Kontent narrates in a voice that is fascinatingly modern. She’s the daughter of Russian immigrants living in a boarding house when we meet her. Her roommate, Eve, is from the MidWest. Together they race around Manhattan having a grand ol’ time.

New Year’s Eve 1937 finds them in a seedy Jazz Club drinking their way through their last 15 cents when Tinker Grey wanders in reeking of wealth and prestige. The girls instantly latch on to him and promise to show him a wonderful time.

Continue reading “Rules to Live By”